• Premier League

Zola flattered by Sunderland link

ESPN staff
September 24, 2013
Gianfranco Zola has been touted as Paolo Di Canio's potential successor on Wearside © Getty Images

Watford manager Gianfranco Zola insists he is happy to stay at the club despite being linked with the vacant job at Sunderland.

Zola, 47, has guided Watford to fifth in the early Championship standings and they are the top scorers in the division. The Hornets missed out on promotion back to the Premier League last season on the final day of the season when they lost at home to Leeds United, before being beaten by Crystal Palace in the play-off final.

Sunderland, rock bottom of the Premier League with one point from five games, are searching for a new manager after sacking Paolo Di Canio on Sunday evening, and the bookmakers have installed former West Ham boss Zola as one of the early favourites to replace him. Two other former Chelsea players, Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet, also feature prominently in the running for the job.

Zola said: "Of course I am flattered that I have been considered but I am really happy over here and like what I am doing. I think my growth as a manager has been massive and so I want to fulfil this task that I will be here."

Kevin Ball will act as manager in the interim after previously filling the caretaker role in 2006. He said: "The situation last time was slightly different to this time, but it did give you an experience, whether it be for one or 10 games.

"I enjoyed it last time and I hope I feel the same way about this one as well. It allows you to say, 'well, I have done it before, it's not something that's unexpected'. I have coached for 10 years, so within that, you do so many things that a manager would do anyhow, it's not a fantastically, unbelievable step."

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