Gianfranco Zola – is it simply a case of not if, but when?

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola is looking more and more like a dead man walking around Upton Park.

The Italian and Chelsea legend is having a rough old time of it at West Ham. Three wins out of the last 14 Premier League matches is particularly poor considering the array of talent that is available to Zola. West Ham have underperformed all season and with new ownership under David Sullivan and David Gold, things are beginning to look a little ominous for the well liked Italian.

West Ham sit three points clear of the relegation places with a game in hand. Following wins against Birmingham City and Hull City a little pressure had begun to be released around the threat of relegation for the east end club. Yet they have been dragged back down amongst it following a quite shocking performance against fellow relegation battlers Bolton last week at Upton Park. With the Hammer’s next two games against Chelsea and Arsenal, both away from home, they are going to get pulled right back down into the fight.

So what does the future hold for Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola? I can’t see him staying past this season at West Ham, even if they survive. The Italian is said to be a nice guy and well liked throughout football, but his experience has been called into question. Especially this season with West Ham performing so abysmally. Unlike a lot of people outside West Ham, I understood his appointment, in fact I applauded it. I like watching West Ham when their playing well. They move the ball beautifully and are a tight knit, proper working class football club. Zola was a master of ‘beautiful’ football and his philosophy of the game was exactly what West Ham was aiming for.

The plan was simple, Gianfranco coached and picked the team and Gianluca Nani, the Italian head scout would sign the players. Both with strong Italian connections, West Ham could prise the best young Italian based players alongside their already fantastic youth setup and build for the future. It just has not gone to plan. Rumours were rift that Zola was not exactly a fan of Nani’s picks. Particularly the green light given for the sale of Craig Bellamy and the purchase of £9 million flop Savio. Clarke was brought in to offer some top level coaching and to help Zola understand the rigours of running a Premiership side. Yet unfortunately Zola has struggled with the jump from Italian under 21’s football where his aura alone motivates young players, to the tactical minefield that is the Premier League. Once the aura of the legend wears off, you have to have some nous to keep winning games. Sadly maybe Zola just is not ready for such a task.

With new ownership in the two Dave’s, the end of the season could bring the end of Gianfranco Zola and West Ham’s short lived love affair. David Sullivan’s comments upon securing the club ownership did not exactly warm himself to Zola. Sullivan told a press conference ‘Gianfranco is highly paid and I think that all managers in the Premier League are over-paid.’ He went on to claim that maybe Zola was ‘too nice’ to be a Premier League manager. Sullivan, always the honest type should maybe have kept his thoughts in house. A slow pushing out appears to be occurring towards Gianfranco Zola.

I believe West Ham will stay up, but only because Burnley and Hull are so poor. West Ham have learnt this lesson before, you are never too good to go down. Zola will keep them up then be promptly booted out of the back door.

Do you think Gianfranco Zola will be sacked at the end of the season?

You can follow all Matthew Balmforth’s blogs on twitter:http://twitter.com/Soccer_Opinion

 


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