The arrival of new owners David Gold and David Sullivan hardly helped as Zola's low-key way of doing things seem to conflict with their high-profile status.
He told The Sun: "Last year was very challenging for me, very dramatic for me not just as a manager but as a person. I had so many different situations that I had to deal with.
"I went from being a footballer who concentrates almost exclusively on himself to the manager who had to deal with many different, non-footballing situations every day, to deal with 20 to 30 players every day.
"And that's even though we agreed on a European-style approach where my job was only to focus on football and working with the players. But it didn't turn out to be that simple.
"There were no big, big things but so many different problems that when they were added all together made one big problem.
"But when I look back I can say with confidence...
"Yes, I learned a lot. A helluva lot."