Gianfranco Zola is not in line to replace Brian McDermott as Leeds manager should he lose his job, the former Chelsea player’s agent has insisted
McDermott’s position at Elland Road has come under particular scrutiny this week since the takeover of the club by Massimo Cellino - the Italian who tried and failed to sack him on a crazy day back in January.
Cellino instructed McDermott via a third party that he had lost his job on January 31 as he prepared to exchange contracts for a 75 per cent purchase with Leeds’ now former owners Gulf Finance House Capital, only for McDermott to get his position back a day later when it emerged his sacking was not valid.
Fifty-seven-year-old Cellino has since been cleared to be Leeds’ new owner after appealing the Football League’s initial decision to turn him down after he was convicted of a tax offence. He awaits a final ratification from the League which he hopes will come on Thursday.
That has led to renewed speculation about McDermott’s future, especially as Leeds have lost eight of their last nine matches.
There have been reports that Zola - who was convinced by Cellino to end his illustrious playing career with the agricultural entrepreneur’s other club Cagliari - is in line to replace McDermott should he be removed either now or in the summer.
But his agent, Fulvio Marrucco, is adamant that Cellino will not be installing Zola, who resigned as Watford boss in December.
“Absolutely not. But I think we will see him back on a bench in England soon enough, rather than back in Italy,” he told Press Association Sport.
“The one thing I can tell you today is that Zola will not be Leeds’ coach for next season.”
Cellino was at Elland Road on Wednesday as he started to comb over the state of the club he has bought. He discovered on Tuesday that Leeds have debts of over £22million and then watched the side lose 3-0 at Watford.
He pledged on Wednesday to pay the remaining amounts of money owed to the playing staff, with them having deferred 50 per cent a fortnight ago as the transaction between GFH Capital and Cellino dragged on as he waited for his appeal to be heard.
He met with McDermott ahead of the Watford game and when pressed on whether or not he would give him until the end of the season to prove himself he told Sky Sports News: “We spoke about the players and the game, just a friendly talk. Nothing about work.
“Yes, I hope so (to stay until the end of the season). One-hundred per cent. He’s a nice guy.”