Chelsea FC: The Top 5 Managers Who Will Be Best for Chelsea and Why
There are many great coaches in world football, and it's no secret that Chelsea FC and Roman Abramovich have burned through quite a few of them.
With that said, however, Chelsea are in the process of appointing a new full-time boss and will be looking for a manager who can take them back to the top of the Premier League and reinvigorate their aging squad.
While many fans will be clamoring for the appointment of Roberto Di Matteo after leading Chelsea to their maiden Champions League triumph, looking closely at how they got there and their league form suggests that while he was the right man to galvanize the team when they were all but lost, he is not the right man to fill the Stamford Bridge hot-seat permanently.
Assuming chief executive Ron Gourlay and Roman Abramovich look elsewhere, we can only guess as to who winds up in charge.
In the meantime, however, I'd like to suggest the five best managers suited to reign at Chelsea. Not necessarily for now, but generally speaking.
I know some of those who are listed are not available, have come and gone or would simply never take up the post, but these are the men that in my opinion are best suited to the role and would make the best manager for Chelsea for differing reasons.
I'm not suggesting they are the five most likely to be appointed. In fact, these are perhaps the least likely managers to ever sit in the Chelsea manager's office. They're merely managers with the tools needed to best succeed (possibly for the second time) at the West London club.
That is, assuming Roman could leave them to pick the team, the tactics and the players for themselves.
5. David Moyes
There is no doubting the managerial capabilities of David Moyes.
The man has guided Everton to countless top-half finishes since his appointment in 2002 and even managed the Toffees to Champions League qualification.
All this on a budget not dissimilar to a child's weekly allowance.
Although Everton have not done particularly well in the continental competitions, Moyes has the experience and the proven Premier League approach needed to take Chelsea back to the top of the EPL ladder.
Having seen what he has done for Everton, imagine what he could do with Chelsea's squad and transfer budget.
With a no-nonsense approach, an eye for talent and a knack for getting the best out of an average squad, Moyes could continue on with the recovery process started by Di Matteo and start to build a new champion team making use of a budget that dwarfs his current spend limit.
Despite still being in charge of Everton and being heavily linked to taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson, I can't imagine Bill Kenwright standing in his way should Chelsea come knocking and look to snap up the Scotsman before the Red Devils part ways with Sir Alex.
4. Carlo Ancelotti
Here is a manager who has won every trophy in Serie A and has won the Champions League twice—not including when he won it as a player.
In acknowledging he has already coached Chelsea and was dismissed for a trophy-less season, let's not forget that the man won the Community Shield and did the Premier League/FA Cup double in his first season in charge with his side banging in a record number of goals.
Despite Chelsea having their biggest form slump of the Abramovich era during his second season in charge, the Blues still finished in second place and never looked in danger of missing Champions League football. Admittedly, there were no trophies, but this was hardly a disastrous season warranting dismissal.
Now in charge of a PSG side destined for titles, Ancelotti proved he was a manager capable of winning things with Chelsea and, with some patience from their Russian owner, would have gone on to many more trophies. His dismissal was a huge mistake in my opinion.
Chelsea were scoring, still maintained a strong and disciplined defense under the Italian and were always going to challenge for honors. While his football may not have been Barcelona-esque, that brand of football belongs exclusively to Pep Guardiola and his former stars and cannot simply be bought by Abramovich.
Carlo has proven himself not only in the Champions League but in the English Premier League. Should there ever be a time that he and Chelsea reunite, it will not be at the expense of success.
3. Marcelo Bielsa
Now this might seem a bolt out of nowhere for many, but hear me out.
For those of you who don't know the "Madman" from Argentina, I invite you to explore the most recent season of Athletic Bilbao.
While they only finished mid-table, Bielsa masterminded a remarkable Europa League campaign which included away wins at Manchester United and Schalke, on the road to Bilbao's first European final since 1977.
Although they would ultimately lose to Athletico Madrid in the final, this was a landmark achieved with a squad devoid of big names and built around youngsters whom he believed fitting of his ambitious approach.
The real feature, however, of Bielsa's tenure at Athletic Bilbao, has been the way he has transformed their style of play. Who knows how they will go next season with more time to develop?
Athletic have, for many years, been seen as an English-style, physical, long-ball team, yet Bielsa has transformed them into one of the most dynamic and best passing teams in Europe in a single season
He and Pep Guardiola are considered two of the leading promoters of "total football," and the former Barcelona boss has even gone on record as saying Bielsa is the best coach on the planet. As a result, Bielsa has been tipped as a candidate to take over at Camp Nou.
For a man who chose Bilbao because of their dependency on raising their own players, promotes youth over big names and offers a style of football that is both beautiful and attacking, Bielsa could be the answer to the demands of Roman Abramovich.
While defense is put on the back-burner to say the least, it is this style of football that Bielsa offers, that Roman craves. Whether or not this style would translate perfectly into the Premier League, there is no doubting the effectiveness of Athletic's play at times this season.
I cannot say his approach would instantly take them back to the top of the English Premier League, but there is no doubting that Bielsa would reinvigorate Chelsea's aging squad and would bring a more attractive style of play to the Blues and their Russian owner.
Newcastle almost won the Premier League under Kevin Keegan with an ethos of "we won't defend, we will just outscore the other team." Under the innovative Bielsa, there is no reason Chelsea couldn't go one better.
2. Guus Hiddink
A personal friend of Roman Abramovich, Guus Hiddink has come to the rescue of Chelsea before.
When Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked during the 2008/2009 season, having taken Chelsea to the point of failing to qualify for the Champions League, Guus stepped in as interim boss while still manager of the Russian national team.
The team saw an instant turnaround, finishing a comfortable third in the league, winning the FA Cup and coming within moments of a Champions League final. Oh, how Chelsea fans recall how close they were to knocking out Barcelona that season.
Having a wealth of experience in management for both club and country, Hiddink always instills a feeling of team unity and has proven his tactical acumen on all stages of world football.
When Guus took over in February 2009, within the first couple of weeks, Chelsea looked like a team again capable of overcoming any opponent. Under his short reign, the Blues looked assured and had fans and players alike pleading for his appointment as full-time boss.
Having all the elements needed to succeed in the toughest league competition in Europe and having already proven he can do just that, the appointment of Hiddink would almost guarantee respect, unity and results for Chelsea. These are vital to build a stable and long-term project—exactly what Chelsea should be looking to do.
If nothing else, surely it would be harder for Roman to sack a friend.
1. Jose Mourinho
I'm sure I'm not the only Chelsea supporter who would love nothing more than the return of the "Special One."
Jose Mourinho has won it all. He has won the league in Portugal, Italy, Spain and back-to-back in the English Premier League. Not to mention two Champions Leagues and countless domestic cups: this is a manager that defines winning.
Perhaps the most sought-after manager in world football, Mourinho has molded countless teams into winning machines and has just dethroned Barcelona in La Liga. It also seems only a matter of time until his next Champions League success.
Did I mention that the back-to-back Premier League titles were achieved with Chelsea?
That's right, Mourinho oversaw the most successful period in Chelsea FC's history, and it is his squad and the mentality that he instilled in them that has allowed other managers such as Ancelotti and now Di Matteo to succeed.
It was largely the Mourinho effect which seemed to be the undoing of Andre Villas-Boas, as the stubbornness and determination that oozes from players like Lampard, Terry, Cech and Drogba made change all the more difficult.
Mourinho left Chelsea following a clash of egos between he and Abramovich. Jose was not afforded the control he demanded and as a result, left by mutual consent. However, since then, he has never hidden his love for Chelsea and the English game and should Abramovich relax his controlling ways, perhaps we will eventually see the return of the "Special One."
Jose Mourinho is proven in every sense of the word and has his finger on the Chelsea pulse. He is our most successful coach ever and should he return to Stamford Bridge, or indeed Battersea Power Station, there is no doubt that great success would soon follow.
Honorable Mentions and Conclusion
While a great case can be made for coaches like Pep Guardiola, Fabio Capello, Brendan Rogers and of course Roberto Di Matteo, I feel that they aren't quite suited to the Chelsea Project.
Although Pep Guardiola created a beautiful machine at Barcelona, I don't feel he could match his efforts at Chelsea, and without the amazing talent which he found himself with at the Catalan club, disappointment would seem a more probable outcome than obscene success.
As for Fabio, he would seem to be only a few years shy of retirement and not interested in a challenge as complex as that at Chelsea.
Brendan Rogers, although well connected to the Blues and despite the quality of football and results with Swansea, seems too green for such a mountainous task.
Finally, Di Matteo, as mentioned earlier, seems to lack the guile needed to build Chelsea back into league champions, despite an outstanding cup double this season. Truly it was his ability to rebuild confidence and not his tactics that saw the Blues push through their cup ties.
While there are many other options out there, these are just my thoughts. I hope to hear your suggestions for and against those I list and for those I didn't.
Anything can happen in football, and that seems only more relevant at Chelsea. With the demand for success only equaled by the demand for expansive football, if not someone on this list, who do you think would make an ideal candidate for Chelsea manager?