Fifteen years after leaving Chelsea to return home to Sardinia and play out the last couple years of his career at Cagliari, Gianfranco Zola returned to Chelsea last summer as one of the assistants of new head coach Maurizio Sarri, signing a one-year contract like all the other new assistants and coaches.
Initially seen as just a token appointment to help bridge the old with the new, the familiar with the unfamiliar, Zola eventually took on the role of assistant manager, shadowing Sarri during games, serving as Sarri’s deputy for media duties during several Cup matches, and championing the Sarri-ball cause whenever he had the chance. (Zola fulfilled by far the most public-facing duties of any of the support staff, including Assistant
Anonymous Luca Gotti.)
With Sarri gone, all the staff he brought with him last summer are expected to follow as well. That does exclude assistant TO the head coach
Dwight Schrute Carlo Cudicini, who’s expected to resume the ambassadorial duties he fulfilled before Antonio Conte added him to the coaching staff. But Zola’s future is far less clear, with conflicting reports making the distinction that he was a choice hire by Chelsea rather than Sarri ... but now his future may hinge on Lampard rather than Chelsea?
Today, the Times (via 101 Great Goals), as part of a general round-up of Lampard developments, reports that Zola has rejected an offer to move into an ambassadorial role and would instead prefer to stay on in some sort of coaching role under Frank Lampard, if the new man in charge would be so willing.
It’s not specified exactly what that would entail, but Zola would certainly represent an older, more experienced head among Lampard’s young and/or relatively inexperienced bucks. The 41-year-old is expected to bring back with him Jody Morris (40) and Chris Jones (48), as well as Shay Given (43). Zola, at a week shy of 53 and with a dozen years of coaching and management experience (more than the four just mentioned combined) — not to mention supreme talent and skill to draw from — could be quite useful.
Also, just seeing Zola makes people happy, and we’re all about the good vibes these days, right?
Sign him up!