Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has seen the likes of Roy Keane make a successful transition to management, and he predicted: "I don't think Gianfranco will be any different.
"He was a little genius on the pitch and I hope that he can bring that over to his management career."
Hasselbaink told Sky Sports News: "Gianfranco will want to see what he has and what he can add to the squad.
"Only time will tell how long he will need or how long he will get.
"I'm convinced if he gets the time he needs he will be successful."
Former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli, who both played with and coached Zola at Stamford Bridge, is optimistic his fellow Italian will be a hit at Upton Park - even though the job is daunting for a new manager.
"It's hard anyway," said Vialli. "It's even harder if it's your first job.
"But it's less hard if you've spent eight years of your life playing in the Premiership so you know the game inside out."