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Zola lands in Birmingham hotseat after Rowett's exit

By Jack De Menezes

Birmingham City last night appointed Gianfranco Zola as their new boss. The former West Ham and Watford manager has replaced Gary Rowett after he was dismissed earlier yesterday. Zola was immediately installed as favourite for the job and the Sky Bet Championship club have acted swiftly, ahead of Saturday's visit of Brighton.

Zola has agreed a two-and-a-half-year deal at St Andrew's and immediately brought in former Chelsea team-mate Pierluigi Casiraghi as first-team coach at the club.

Gabriele Cioffi has also been named as a first-team coach with another ex-Chelsea team-mate Kevin Hitchcock goalkeeper coach.

Blues director Panos Pavlakis said: "We are delighted to welcome Gianfranco and his backroom team to the club.

"His pedigree, philosophy and ambition fits with what we would like to achieve as we move in a new direction.

"Gianfranco has a wealth of top-level experience as both manager and player and we are extremely excited about his appointment."

Zola was appointed less than six hours after Rowett and his coaching staff parted company with the club after two years.

Rowett was dismissed with Birmingham only outside the play-off places on goal difference after winning 2-1 at home to Ipswich on Tuesday.

The Blues' previous two results were heavy 4-0 and 3-0 defeats to Newcastle and Barnsley respectively but they are the only two losses in the club's last seven league matches.

Birmingham's new owner Trillion Trophy Asia Limited announced the decision to relieve Rowett of his duties had been taken "with a strategic, long-term view and with the club's best interests at heart".

Former Birmingham defender Rowett left Burton - who he had taken to successive League Two play-off campaigns - to replace Lee Clark as Blues boss in October 2014.

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