Gianfranco Zola was lauded last season for his remarkable work in gelling an almost brand new Watford side together, which almost saw the Vicarage Road club promoted.
It has not been a surprise therefore, to see the Italian linked with the vacant manager’s position at Sunderland.
The situation having been left the way it has been by Paolo Di Canio though, the Black Cats will need a manager of a very particular skill set.
Firstly, the incoming boss will have to be able to bring players together and it is that aspect of the job which would be most suited to Zola.
It was well documented how many players came into Watford last season and Zola had them playing arguably the most creative football in the Championship after only a month or so.
One concern on that front is that most of Watford’s players came from Udinese and Granada, who already knew each other and, because of the Pozzo family owning all the clubs, knew exactly what was going on.
Going into Sunderland, the new manager will find a group of 14 players that were brought in over the summer from an array of teams, all who will be unsure of the goals and ambitions of the club after Di Canio’s sacking.
Another key attribute the new boss will have to bring is man-management skills.
There will be quite a few players, one imagines, that will need reminding of their ability, but, as we have seen time and again, it is not the easiest thing for a manager to do.
Whether Zola has the necessary ability when it comes to coaxing out a player’s full potential is debateable, simply because he has not yet been in a position in his managerial career where he has really needed to display that kind of ability.
He certainly has brought players on at Watford, but at Sunderland the players currently require more than development of their technical skills.
With all those new players, who were obviously brought in to suit Di Canio’s style of play, the incoming manager will also require a particular preferred tactical setup.
The fluid, possession game is something that both Zola and Di Canio admire and so that would likely not be too problematic.
The biggest problem with Zola going to Sunderland might be the man himself knowing what he would have left behind.
He has begun building a dynasty in a long-term project at Watford and it has gone even better than he could have expected so far.
Would what could have been play on his mind? It is easy to say you won’t look back, but doing so once you hit a sticky patch in pastures new is much harder.
As things stand, he has the resources at Watford to continue what he has been doing, get promoted to the same level as Sunderland and push on.
The overall point is, Zola would probably do a good job at Sunderland, but the timing just does not seem right.