Ray Wilkins Leaves Chelsea

Andrew KearneyCorrespondent INovember 11, 2010

Ray Wilkins salutes the fans
Ray Wilkins salutes the fansClive Mason/Getty Images

A lot of Chelsea fans have been left reeling by today's news that assistant manager, Ray 'Butch' Wilkins, is to leave Chelsea.

The Chelsea board have chosen not to renew Wilkins contract and that he will leave the club with immediate effect.

Chief executive Ron Gourlay has said in a statement:

''On behalf of everyone at the club I would like to thank Ray for everything he has done for Chelsea Football Club. We all wish him well for the future.'

Wilkins has been assistant manager at Chelsea for over two years having taken the position following the departure of Steve Clarke to West Ham United in 2008. He even took full charge for an FA cup tie against Watford in January, 2009 following the sacking of manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

It is believed by some that the decision to release Wilkins was financially motivated as a cost cutting measure as the club seek financial viability.

There have been no reports of any falling outs within the club.

Ray 'Butch' Wilkins will long hold a place in the hearts of the Stamford Bridge faithful.

A product of the Chelsea youth system in the early 70's, Wilkins remains Chelsea's youngest ever captain. He received the honour in 1975 at the tender age of 18.

He would go on to play for Manchester United, AC Milan, Rangers and local rivals Queens Park Rangers where he also spent two seasons as manager.

Wilkins first returned to Chelsea in 2000 as a coach under manager Gianluca Vialli but was let go when Vialli himself was sacked.

He spent the next few years working as a media pundit and had spells coaching at Watford, Millwall and the England under-21's before eventually returning to Chelsea in September 2008.

The question now turns to who will replace Wilkins as assistant manager.

Names are already been thrown around in the rumour mills as to who will come in.

One of the key skills Wilkins had was his ability to speak Italian. Its well known that Carlo Ancelotti's English is far from fluent and anyone who were to come in would need to be able to get his message across to the players.

This adds fuels to the rumours that the person who may come in could be former Chelsea players Marcel Desailly, Pierluigi Casiraghi or the man voted by the fans as Chelsea's greatest ever player, Gianfranco Zola.

Wilkins will be fondly remembered by the fans. Perhaps not a blood and thunder coach, he was always working to motivate and improve the team.

He will be missed and we wish him all the best in the future.