Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked today after less than one full season in the position.
You could tell over the last few weeks that things were not going well when instead of the fans singing “Blue Flag” they were calling for Scolari’s head. You could sense that the players were dejected, and that Scolari had lost the team.
Through the press, stories were being leaked about player complaints. Stories were leaked through players that training sessions needed to be tougher, and that the team needed to place more of an emphasis on defense. Players also questioned his line-up selections by asking why Deco’s spot seemed to be so protected.
I’m not saying that it is right or wrong for the players to leak this through the press, but it is never a good sign when this happens. When players are questioning you in the media, there is an obvious disconnect.
The results were not there either. Chelsea are fourth in the table, with four losses and one tie against the rest of the big four. Also, and it had to end sometime, but it didn’t help that Chelsea’s home unbeaten streak ended on Scolari’s watch. Even Avram Grant was able to keep that streak going.
It seems odd to make the change now, just after the transfer window closed, but it may end up being for the best. The style of football that Scolari was trying to implement at Chelsea did not play to the strengths of their current players.
A few players like Nikolas Anelka, Bosingwa, and Joe Cole seemed to flourish in this new system. But, more importantly, it didn’t seem to fit the style of stars such as Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, and Micheal Ballack.
There was also not as much of an emphasis on defensive football. This frustrated defenders players like John Terry and goalkeeper Petr Cech.
I don’t mean to say that Scolari is a bad manager, but I am saying he was a bad manager for Chelsea.
With the team currently in the hands of assistant Ray Wilkins, Chelsea begin their search for a new manager. There are quite a few names being tossed around as possibilities. There is Guus Hiddink, Zola, Frank Rijkaard, and even Jose Mourinho.
I will say that I don’t think there is any chance that Jose Mourinho or Gianfranco Zola will be the next manager. Owner Roman Abramovich and Mourinho just do not get along, and Zola is also saying publicly that he will not be leaving West Ham.
That leaves the two likely favorites being Guus Hiddink and Frank Rijkaard.
Hiddink is the current Russian coach. He is known as an excellent tactician and anyone who watched the Euros this past summer knows what his teams are capable of. He also has experience managing club teams, which I feel was a glaring weakness of Scolari’s.
Rijkard, the former manager of Barcelona, also has club management experience. He has won two La Liga titles and one Champions League title.
I don’t feel you can go wrong with either of these two.
Chelsea needs to choose their replacement soon to stabilize the club. With the team seven points out of first and Manchester United with a game in hand, the board can’t waste any time. Chelsea must have their new manager before they are eliminated from the FA Cup, or worse yet, Champions League.
They need to make sure they make the right selection. Pick a manager with club experience that is also flexible enough to coach to the strengths of the players he has. Chelsea are not in a financial position right now to buy a new starting eleven. Both Hiddink or Rijkaard fit the bill for me.
With either of these choices, look for Chelsea to be back in the hunt for trophies.