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Sky Bet Championship 2016/17: 5 things we learnt this week – Matchdays 20 and 21

Gianfranco Zola
Zola’s previous clubs include West Ham, Cagliari and Watford
Richard Lowe
Modified 16 Dec 2016, 13:07 IST
Top 5 / Top 10

As we head toward the Christmas Holiday period for the Sky Bet Championship, there was anything but rest and relaxation in the teams’ minds. All teams played twice this week and are now looking forward to an even busier festive fixture list.

There was another managerial exit, a new leader at the top of the league (for a few hours at least) as well as the bottom club finally managing a victory! Plus, which Man United Legend’s son helped Derby County keep up their winning streak? And mixed fortunes for one of the other playoff hopefuls. All that and more in the Sky-Bet Championship Round-up!

#1 Rowett has the Blues as Zola steps in

Another week, another managerial casualty in the Championship! This time from a slightly unusual source. Birmingham City, currently lying 8th in the Championship and having 3 wins from the last 5 decided to part company this week with their manager Gary Rowett after 2 years with the club.

Club Director Panos Pavlakis said of Rowett: "Such a parting of the ways is always difficult, particularly so on a personal level as I have worked very closely with Gary and have got to know him well. Our relationship was very strong but in football you can never stand still.”

That means that in this calendar year, 15 of the 24 Championship clubs have changed their manager at least once. The board at Birmingham wasted no time in appointing his successor, however. Less than 6 hours after the last manager departed, in walked the new one. Former Chelsea and Italy striker, Gianfranco Zola.

Zola’s previous clubs include West Ham, Cagliari and Watford. The former Chelsea star’s last managerial place was with Qatari side Al-Arabi, but he was sacked in June after just one season with them. Never-the-less, the Birmingham board must see something in him. Pavlakis, in particular, spoke very highly of him.

"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."

Whether this will be an inspired appointment, or a monumental error, only time will tell.

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Published 16 Dec 2016, 12:09 IST
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