The ex-Chelsea maestro currently sits at the helm of Qatari outfit Al-Arabi and guided the club to eighth-place in the 2015-16 Stars League campaign, the same finish they achieved the previous season. Zola is currently 6/1 (7.00) to return to England’s second tier with the Reds this summer, joint-third favourite alongside Steve Evans, with Garcia and Neil Warnock just ahead.
It’s been two-and-a-half years since Zola last held a managerial position in England, having mentored Watford to a Championship play-off final defeat to Crystal Palace in 2013 before resigning in December of that year following a dismal run early in the 2013-14 campaign. That 14-month spell with the Hornets remains the most successful tenure of his career thus far, boasting a 44% win ratio (33 wins from 75 matches in charge).
As for Garcia, the former Barcelona midfielder is still 6/4 (2.50) to replace caretaker Paul Williams at the Forest helm, according to Sky Bet, but his allegiances to Red Bull Salzburg mean the race is far from over just yet. If the club is seeking a manager with Championship experience, former Brighton & Hove Albion chief Garcia may be their man, and there are some questions he may still want answered after illness put an early stop to his run as Watford manager in September 2014.
Of all the front-runners, Warnock is one of the few who isn’t currently employed by a club, but he’s fallen further from the fore and is now at 5/1 (5.00) to succeed Williams. That’s a considerable leap from the 2/1 (3.00) odds he could be found at just over a week ago, suggesting the former Notts County chief is a long shot to take over at their rivals, perhaps due to the rift his past allegiances may cause among fans.
Recently axed Leeds United boss Steve Evans is the other free-agent option for the Reds, and his odds have slightly shortened from 7/1 (8.00) underdog to 6/1 (7.00) choice since June 1st. The 53-year-old former Rotherham and Crawley Town boss endured a whirlwind nine months with Leeds under controversial ownership, but he still managed to win more games than he lost or drew (W14 D12 L12). Could he be worth backing to succeed in a more structured environment?
Portugal boss Fernando Santos has plummeted in the managerial race and is now a mile out at 25/1 (26.00) to take over the Championship outfit, having once been available at 6/1 (7.00) to assume the role, even though he’s currently preparing his side to compete at Euro 2016. That drop is likely due to the fact Portugal have impressed a lot as of late, winning seven of their last 10 matches, making it less likely the Lisbon native will be leaving anytime soon.
Along with Zola, ex-Red Roy Keane has also seen his odds of re-joining the club fall sharply over the past week-and-a-half, going from 33/1 (34.00) near-impossibility to a more promising 20/1 (21.00) outside bet. Keane made 154 appearances for Forest in just three seasons between 1990 and 1993, and despite the fact he hasn’t managed since departing Ipswich Town in 2011, many at the City Ground may welcome him to the club.