Roberto Di Matteo has impressed at the Blues, but who will be next to take the hotseat?
When Andre Villas-Boas was sacked by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in early March, questions were instantly asked about whether a Stamford Bridge manager would ever be allowed the time to build a squad without fear of being relieved of their duties. The 34 year old from Portugal was, remarkably, their seventh different manager since Abramovich bought the club in 2003, and his notorious impatience has raised the issue of how attractive the post is for any individual with designs on creating a legacy at the club. Chelsea are, nonetheless, highly ambitous and well-resourced, and it is thus an appealing position for many individuals within football. There are a variety of plausible contenders for the job, each with their own unique strengths, and some of these candidates will be assessed below.
The current manager of Spanish giants Real Madrid and former manager of the Blues, Mourinho has the clear advantage of already having an established relationship with a number of Chelsea's players. His return would therfore be popular among the squad, while he and Abramovich appear to have reconciled after the falling-out which led to the Portuguese departing Chelsea in 2007. An exhaustive attention to detail and incredibly detailed approach to tactics are his hallmarks, as is his ability to create a closely-knit squad with an 'us against the world', while his preference for an effective, rather than aesthetic, manner of playing will be accepted if it can deliver trophies. The 49 year old's record at Porto and Inter Milan was similarly impressive, with the Champions League, mcuh desired by Abramovich, won at both clubs, and his Real Madrid side currently lead Barcelona in La Liga. Moreover, Mourinho is keen to return to England in the near future, although parhaps only if he can secure the La Liga title first, which would realise his career goal of winning the league championship in England, Italy and Spain.
The Catalan boss has rose to prominence following astonishing success at his beloved Barcelona, where their achievements and style of play have resulted in the feasible claim that they are the best side in the history of the game. A former Barca legend as a player, starring for the club in the 1990s, Guardiola returned to the club as coach of the Barcelona B team, obtaining promotion in his single year with them, before taking the reigns with the senior side and, sensationally, going on to win 13 out of 16 possible trophies at the time of writing. Similarly to Mourinho, he is renowned for his incessent preparations but, unlike 'The Special One', the 41 year old Guardiola is also recognised for his devotion to attacking, passing football in the manner of the manager he played under for Barca, Johan Cruyff. Furthermore, of encouragement to Chelsea supporters is his openess to managing in the Premier League, citing the demands of Camp Nou management as a reason why he is unlikely to remain there for more than another couple of seasons. However, it is also believed by some that Abramovich's impatience would deter Guardiola from taking the job, especially if other options, such as that of Manchester United, were to become available.
While not as distinguished as the two managers discussed above, the Everton boss for over ten years has proven himself to possess a special ability to maximise the resources at his disposal and maintain their position as a competitive club in the Premier League. Following a largely successful spell at Preston North End, the Scot took over at Goodison Park and has led them to the Champions League qualifying rounds and an FA Cup final, achievements made even more admirable by the limited finances available to him and the fact that he has been forced to sell many of the Toffees' best players, including Wayne Rooney, Joleon Lescott and Mikel Arteta. The 48 year old's evident ability has been recognised by the League Managers Association awarding him their Manager of the Year award on three occasions, in 2003, 2005 and 2009. In addition, if Chelsea do approach Moyes then he may feel that this is the time for a fresh challenge in the game, as the Stamford Bridge post would allow him the opportunity to spend with significantly more freedom than at Everton, and would give him the chance to test himself regularly in Europe. But like Mourinho and Guardiola, the instability surrounding this position may enocurage Moyes to cast his eye towards other offers that may materialise.
Roberto Di Matteo
The incumbent at Chelsea, albeit on a temporary basis, can also be included as a contender as a result of his relatively successful opening period as the Blues boss. He has appeared to have created positive relationships with his players, and does not seem to be hindered by his invlovement in the Villas-Boas era, where he was the assistant manager. Prior to re-joining Chelsea, where he experienced success as a player, he managed Milton Keynes Dons to the League One play-offs in 2009, and West Bromwich Albion to promotion to the Premier League the following year. Appointing the Italian as manager would be advantageous in ensuring continuity and avoiding an uncertain summer, and the 41 year old would almost certainly accept the job. His credentials, however, do not match those of the majority of the other contenders, meaning he wolud probably have to win trophy to come into Abramovich's thinking.
The Spaniard was mentioned as a possible short-term option when Villas-Boas was removed, before Di Matteo was chosen, and the former Liverpool manager is consequently likely to be on their shortlist. This suggestion was, though, met with disapproval by Chelsea fans and Abramovich may take this into account, although an individual that has accomplished what he has should not be discounted. The 51 year old famously won the Champions League, which Chelsea so crave, with Liverpool in 2005, the FA Cup in 2006 and led them to the runners-up spot in the Premier League in 2009. With Valenica before that, he twice was victorious in La Liga and also secured the UEFA Cup, proving himself with these two clubs to possess tactical intelligence of the highest level. His period at Anfield though, will be partly remebered for a number of disappointing signings, a tendency at times to set his team up perhaps overly defensively, and an unsatifactory final season, while his short spell with Inter Milan was far removed from what José Mourinho achieved at the Italian club.