With Jose Mourinho under mounting pressure at Chelsea, club owner Roman Abramovich could soon have to find a new manager. But who are his options in the short and long term?
- Pep Guardiola
Deeply coveted by Roman Abramovich for his work at Barcelona and subsequently Bayern Munich, Guardiola plays the kind of football the Russian has always wanted to enjoy from Stamford Bridge’s posh seats.
With his contract up at the end of the season, Guardiola’s long-term future at Bayern is far from certain – particularly if he fails to win the Champions League this season – and the attraction of living London could sway a man whose enjoys a cosmopolitan life. Abramovich would have to wait until next summer to make his move, however.
Abramovich must surely rue the day he decided to fire Ancelotti – the man who won him a Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010 – just moments after a match at Everton.
The Italian was popular, successful and looked a good fit for the club, and the fact Real Madrid wasted no time in snapping him up underlined his prowess. Out of work since leaving the Bernabeu, Ancelotti is available now but would be reluctant to take up a temporary post at Stamford Bridge and, having been stung once, he might well have qualms about working for as ruthless an owner as Abramovich.
Another man who has already experienced life at the Chelsea coal face, Hiddink would be a popular choice among players and supporters to steady the ship until the end of the season, having performed a similar task in 2009 following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.
His stock has not been quite as high since that season, and his most recent job – as Holland manager – was disastrous, but his availability and experience makes him an obvious candidate as an interim candidate, even if he would be unlikely to get the job long-term.
The Atletico Madrid manager falls into the category of long-term target, having established himself as one of the best managerial prospects in Europe from his work in the Spanish capital.
The team he led to the La Liga title and Champions League final in 2014 was good enough to be pillaged by Europe’s biggest clubs – including Chelsea – and while last season was less illustrious, he has kept Atletico competitive.
His style of play is not exactly to Abramovich’s taste, but he undoubtedly has stardust and could well be looking for a new challenge by the time the summer rolls around.
Stop sniggering at the back. The notion of appointing Grant on an interim basis is not that much more ludicrous now than it was in 2007 when Mourinho first left Chelsea in messy circumstances, and it should not be forgotten that the Israeli was the width of a post away from becoming a Champions League winner at the end of that season.
He has retained good relations with Roman Abramovich and would doubtless jump at the chance to be back in the limelight, although Chelsea fans would doubtless be horrified at the prospect.
6. Ronald Koeman
The Southampton manager has impressed everyone with his work at St Mary’s since succeeding Mauricio Pochettino, and his team play the kind of fluent, stylish football that is said to please Abramovich.
His name carries kudos as well, even if it is mainly a legacy from his illustrious playing career rather than his work as a coach. Inconceivable that he would take the job on an interim basis, but has an outside chance of being in contention next summer, provided Southampton do not implode.
7. Antonio Conte
One of the most highly-regarded coaches on the continent following his work at Juventus, which saw him land a domestic league and cup double and reach the Champions League final last season.
Would not be interested in taking the job on a temporary basis but might want a new challenge by the end of the season, so should not be discounted next summer.
The Italian has the feel of being yesterday’s man, having not managed at club level since 2007, but he does have the advantage of being immediately available following his sacking by Russia.
He was known to have a good relationship with John Terry and would not be fazed by the challenge, but fans would most likely be underwhelmed.
9. Frank de Boer
The Ajax manager has been in charge in Amsterdam for five years and could well now be looking for a new challenge, having previously intimated interest in the Tottenham job.
A serial winner in his playing days and schooled in the ‘Ajax way’ of fluent football, there are some obvious attractions but his lack of meaningful silverware and Premier League experience counts against him.
10. Joachim Low
Under contract with Germany until the 2018 World Cup, but would certainly be a contender to succeed Mourinho next summer – when he would have been in charge of his country for a gruelling 10 years.
Lack of experience at club level is clearly a concern but the polish of Germany’s football during his tenure – and his medal haul – would probably eclipse those fears.
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