Ranking Chelsea's Rumored Manager Candidates on Suitability
It seems the titles of my latest articles just keep coming and coming, don't they? And I have a frustrated Spanish manager to thank for that.
Rafael Benitez confirmed on Wednesday evening after Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough that he would leaving when his "interim" contract is finished. This was swiftly followed by an astonishing rant aimed at the club's fans and hierarchy.
It was a strange time to unleash the verbal tirade, especially when the team had performed more like the Chelsea of old.
Benitez's rant will surely rule the back pages tomorrow, and do not be surprised if you see the infamous "club statement" by Friday, explaining the former Liverpool coach's departure.
If that happens, the usual long list of high-pedigree managers with world-class reputations will be drawn up, but the usual suspects will be linked with a move to Stamford Bridge.
Find out here who we believe could take charge of the Blues and become the 10th manager under Roman Abramovich if, as expected, Benitez bids "hasta luego" to Stamford Bridge.
Fabio Capello (Russia National Team)
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Even for a disciplinarian with strict values, his defence of Chelsea captain John Terry was admirable. Fabio Capello put his job on the line as England coach to defend a man he believed should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, and he left with his dignity intact.
However, the man he could not be more opposite even if he tried. Benitez's latest rant at the Chelsea hierarchy could signal the end of his stint before it really actually began, and Roman Abramovich could look to the Italian tactician to rescue their season.
Capello is currently contracted to the Russian national team until the 2014 World Cup, and he claims it will be his last job in football before retiring after a hugely successful career in football as both player and manager.
But with his four-and-a-half-year reign as England manager turning out to be a resounding success, Abramovich would have no qualms with giving him the salary he desires if it means bringing back success to Stamford Bridge.
Manuel Pellegrini (Malaga)
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Probably one of the more popular choices for the next Chelsea manager, Manuel Pellegrini would relish the chance to pull off a miracle at Stamford Bridge.
However, the chances of luring him midseason are slim enough as it is. Add in the fact that Malaga are still in the Champions League latter stages and challenging for the same position next year, and you ask the question: Why would he leave?
Well, Malaga are barred from playing in the Champions League next season due to financial irregularities and that could sway Pellegrini's thoughts. The lure of having an unlimited transfer budget combined with the opportunity to coach in England could be too difficult to turn down.
A man of Pellegrini's stature and with his resume will know that job security is ideal in the competitive world of football, and if any move is to happen, you can almost guarantee he could make the switch when the season ends.
Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid)
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Even despite his unceremonious exit from Chelsea six years ago (yes, it really was that long ago!) the love affair between Jose Mourinho and the club has never really gone away.
The senior players at the club like Petr Cech, John Terry and Frank Lampard, who are widely viewed as the spine that hold the team together, are all known to keep in regular contact with Mourinho.
And the Real Madrid coach, who guided the club to their first La Liga title since the 2007-08 season, has endured the wrath of the players, fans and the media this season.
Criticized for dropping Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos, Mourinho can sometimes be accused of believing too much in his own ability as a coach. On the other hand, why would anyone doubt him? "The Special One" has won two Champions League titles and is chasing a historic third this season.
Regardless of whether he is triumphant in doing so is insignificant; Mourinho will leave on a high if they win, and equally, he'll jump ship before he is pushed by president Florentino Perez.
A return is only possible in the summer. Mourinho never leaves the job unfinished, although he would feel that there is a certain lure to rescuing the side he made successful.
Avram Grant (Unattached)
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The picture does not require a caption. It tells a long story about how the virtually-unknown Israeli coach Avram Grant managed to lead Chelsea to the Champions League Final, only to miss out on victory by the cruelty of penalties.
He may not have been the most popular choice for interim manager, but believe it or not, Grant lost just two of his 32 Premier League games in charge with a win percentage of 74 percent; better than Mourinho, Luis Felipe Scolari and Roberto Di Matteo. Only conquered by the undoubtedly magnificent Guus Hiddink.
Grant is a friend of the Blues' rich owner Roman Abramovich, and having that relationship is key to the club and the players. His successful stint which may have ended with a sour taste in the mouth has left Grant with the idea of being open to returning to role he left in 2009.
He would most definitely be the easiest option should Benitez depart before the end of the season, and with the Russian billionaire inviting him to the FA Cup victory over Brentford, it looks as if he could be the front-runner to take the position of the under-fire Benitez.