Chelsea will almost certainly end the 2010/11 season without adding to their trophy cabinet, which would only be the third time in the Roman Abramovich era that they will go through a season without winning a major trophy.
The managers in charge for those two seasons, Claudio Ranieri (2003/04) and José Mourinho/Avram Grant (2007-08) were replaced (Mourinho left the club in September 2007 “by mutual consent”). This doesn't bode well for Carlo Ancelotti and his hopes of staying as manager at Stamford Bridge.
When owner Abarmovich searches for the new manager of his team, he has ended up appointing men who have a wealth of experience and know-how to win competitions. Mourino, Ancelotti and Gus Hiddink have Champions League and domestic honours, while Luiz Felipe Scolari won the World Cup in 2002 with Brazil. Avram Grant has won domestic trophies in Israel, and managed the national team from 2002 to 2006.
If Carlo Ancelotti does get sacked at the end of the season, then Chelsea will be looking for their fifth manager since the end of the Mourinho era. Some of Europe’s biggest name managers such as Frank Rijkaard, Marco Van Basten, Mourinho and Hiddink themselves are being linked with the position. Not much surprise there, going by Abarmovich's track record.
How about a wild-card option then? This is where current Brighton manager Gus Poyet and former West Ham United manager Gianfranco Zola come into the frame. Both played with distinction for the Blues, with Zola being voted as Chelsea’s best ever player in a fan vote in 2003, and named in their centenary 11 in 2005. They both certainly know their way around Stamford Bridge.
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Poyet has done a fantastic job at League One club Brighton and Hove Albion. He has guided the Seagulls to promotion to the Championship, and they look certain to finish as champions. Brighton has been the class of the division, and has yet to lose a home game. They play attractive attacking football and score plenty of goals (only Peterborough have more).
What is more impressive though is Poyet's success in the transfer market. With Chelsea needing to restructure their playing squad in the summer, Poyet could be the man to do this.
The question remains, though, will he be able to have as much success at the highest level? During his time as Tottenham assistant manager, the club brought in a Welsh teenager by the name of Gareth Bale. Although it did take Bale a couple of years to develop into the threat he is today, if Poyet had any input into this transfer, then this would suggest he can eye top-level talent.
Gianfranco Zola has the most recent Premiership experience of the two men (leaving West Ham in May 2010). The Italian went through a tough managerial baptism of fire at West Ham. At the beginning of Zola's reign results were disappointing, but he stuck with his football ethics and built a team that played with attacking flair that Hammers fans had not seen for a number of years.
Zola also gave professional debuts to the duo of Junior Stanislas and Zavon Hines. Talented youngsters Jack Collinson and James Tomkins scored their first goals for the club during Zola’s tenure. Zola proved that he could work with, and be a positive influence on young players. Roman Abramovich has spent a lot of money on the Chelsea academy, and would no doubt like to see significant returns.
To conclude, currently there are no certain reports that Carlo Ancelotti will lose his job and a strong end to the season might help his position. However, if the Italian does lose the manager's seat at Chelsea, the odds will be likely that Abramovich will keep to his methods of naming an established manager.
Although a Poyet and Zola managerial duo would be a big risk due to their inexperience of managing at the elite level, it could give the club a huge lift in morale and could very well end up in future success.