When Gary Rowett left Birmingham City last December, it’s fair to say plenty of eyebrows were raised. He’d led them to eighth in the Championship, just one point off a play-off spot. His replacement, Gianfranco Zola, had to do just one thing – keep them there.
They’ve played 12 league games since then (14 in all competitions), and they’ve won just one.
That horrendous run has seen them exit the Emirates FA Cup and slide down to 14th in the league. In fact, they’re now closer to the relegation zone than they are to the top six.
And we’re no longer taking bets on Blues going up, although our traders clearly aren’t ruling out a drop to League One, with 12/1 on offer for the Midlands outfit to go down.
But with pressure now piling onto the shoulders of Zola, it’s the 8/1 on him losing against Wolverhampton Wanderers and being sacked which we’re more interested in.
That game is one which the former Chelsea star simply cannot afford to lose. A dip in form (albeit a large one) can be excused by fans, but a defeat to local rivals on top of that just won’t be tolerated.
And even those fans still supporting the 50-year-old boss will likely turn on him should Birmingham leave Molineux with nothing this weekend.
Regardless of this weekend’s result, we reckon it’s unlikely the Italian will still be in charge on the opening day of the 2017-18 season. We make that an even-money shot, while the more likely scenario is him leaving between now and then (8/11).
It’s thought Zola has the full backing of the board, but that’s often considered a curse in the modern game.
And having already seen nine managers leave their post in the Championship this season, the odds suggests that the Blues boss could be number 10.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing