If you believe everything you read, then you’ll believe that Jose Mourinho is only two bad results away from being given the boot from Stamford Bridge by Roman Abramovich.
But if he is to leave his position at Chelsea for the second time, who can the Russian Billionaire turn to?
Why does it make sense? Pep Guardiola has been dogged with rumours of unrest in Munich with suggestions that the likes of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and other members of the Bayern hierarchy are unhappy with him. The Spaniard has spoken of his desire to coach in England and his contract set to expire at the end of this season, despite Rummenigge’s confidence that Guardiola will extend it.
Why won’t it happen? Should Guardiola move to England, it won’t be until the summer at the very earliest, meaning Abromovich would be required to find an interim manager for the rest of the season. According to Sir Alex Ferguson’s most recent book, the former Barcelona boss would favour a move to Manchester United, while his playing style is far more suited to the Arsenal setup currently in place and Manchester City will also be interested if he becomes available. Should Chelsea fail to qualify for the Champions League, Guardiola would almost certainly not be their next manager.
Likelihood of appointment? Now – 1/10; End of the season – 8/10
Why does it make sense? Carlo Ancelotti is currently out of work since his dismissal from Real Madrid and has as recently as October spoken of his desire to manage a team in England again. He previously managed Chelsea for two seasons between 2009-2011, but was sacked, despite winning the Premier League and FA Cup double in his debut season. Abramovich has an obsession with winning the Champions League again and nobody has lifted the trophy more often than the Italian.
Why won’t it happen? Ancelotti and Abramovich did not end on the best of terms with the former AC Milan manager receiving his p45 less than two hours after the final match of the 2010/11 season. Abramovich is also thought to favour a younger manager and would only look at Ancelotti as an interim measure – something the Italian would be reluctant to do.
Likelihood of appointment? 6/10
Why does it make sense? Diego Simeone is the sort of young, hungry manager Abramovich is looking to attract to his club. Simeone has lured some top players to Atletico Madrid on a small budget and managed to take his side to within minutes of a first ever Champions League crown. The Argentinian will be keen to prove what he can do with a bigger budget and negotiations could be smoother than with other clubs considering the amount of business Atletico have done with Chelsea recently with the likes of Diego Costa and Felipe Luis.
Why won’t it happen? Simeone is a highly combustable character, to put it kindly. He frequently berates officials and runs on to the pitch to gesticulate after decisions, so would he feel comfortable with a boss who is so controlling? Like Guardiola, he may not be keen on switching clubs in the middle of the season.
Likelihood of appointment? 4/10
Why does it make sense? Abramovich has had great success when appointing interim managers during his time at Chelsea. Avram Grant led the Blues to within two points of the title before losing on penalties in the Champions League final against Manchester United in 2008. Guus Hiddink took over after Luis Felipe Scolari’s departure in 2009 and won the FA Cup, while Roberto Di Matteo won the FA Cup and the Champions League before receiving the job on a permanent basis. Rafael Benitez was his final interim boss and gave Abramovich the Europa League in 2013 before Mourinho returned. An interim boss would also give the Chelsea owner plenty of time to try and woo Guardiola.
Who is available? Guus Hiddink remains a close friend to Abramovich having been in charge of the Russian national team and would be high up on the list of men to take the reigns until the season’s end. As previously mentioned, Ancelotti is another who is available but is unlikely to be as willing to do his former boss the same favour. There are not many other top managers available on a short term basis, but a club legend such as Gianfranco Zola could return to temporarily galvanise the club and the supporters, much like Di Matteo did in 2012.
Likelihood of appointment of interim manager? 9/10