There are increasing rumours that Carlo Ancelotti will be relieved of his duties come the end of the season, even if Chelsea can perform a miracle and catch Manchester United in the league. Early exits from both cups, a poor showing in the league and only reaching the quarterfinal of the Champions League have not impressed the Russian owner, who is desperate to see his Chelsea side win the big one—the Champions League.
However, if Abramovich was to dispense with Ancelotti, who would be the names on the shortlist that the Russian might draw up?
Here are 10 men who could potentially replace the Italian at Stamford Bridge. With seven Champions League trophies, one World Cup and 24 league titles between them, they include many of the biggest names in world football.
And who knows, come August next season, one of them could be the seventh manager that attempts to win the Champions League for Roman Abramovich.
Guus Hiddink had a very successful spell at Chelsea in 2009 when he replaced Scolari for the last three months of the season. A close friend of Roman Abramovich, his managerial record is very impressive, and he has a Champions League winner’s medal on his resume.
However, he has not held a permanent club managerial job for over a decade now and is reportedly not interested in returning to the more hectic, stressful style of club management, preferring to remain an international manager.
Whilst Chelsea fans would love to see Hiddink back at the helm at Stamford Bridge, it is unlikely that he will want to take the job on a permanent basis. However, there are growing rumours that he will return in a Director of Football role instead.
The Special One has already announced that he will return to England for his next job. And for a man of his calibre, there are only a select few jobs that would meet his criteria. Already a legend at Chelsea after winning two titles and three other trophies during his time at the club, he left after reportedly falling out with Roman Abramovich.
However, given that the Champions League is Abramovich’s top target, Mourinho is undoubtedly the manager most likely to deliver after having led Porto and Inter to the title in his career, and with another semifinal coming up against Barcelona, he has the chance to make it three titles with three different clubs.
Mourinho would undoubtedly be a popular choice, but whether he and Abramovich could put their differences aside is likely to be a major issue, as is the question of whether he would want to leave Real Madrid without having won the league.
In his short career as a manager, Guardiola has already won everything that there is to win at club level with Barcelona. Although he has been blessed with arguably some of the greatest players of the last decade, he has still performed admirably to deliver trophy after trophy, playing some of the best football seen at club level.
Recent comments from Guardiola that he felt his time at Barcelona was coming to an end will have caught the attention of Abramovich, who will hope that Guardiola can finally deliver the Champions League and bring the style of football that Barcelona play to West London.
If Guardiola is looking for a new challenge in the near future, Chelsea would undoubtedly be an attractive proposition for him. His managerial record and style of football will have gone down well with the Russian owner, so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he could find himself at Stamford Bridge next season.
If Villas-Boas can win the Europa League this season, he could become the second European trophy winning Portuguese manager to make the move from Porto to Chelsea in recent times. The young former protégé of Jose Mourinho, he has excelled in his first high-profile job, having lost only three of his 51 matches in charge of Porto this season, dropping only four points in the league thus far.
He has turned Porto into a free-flowing attractive yet effective side, who have breezed through every competition that they have competed in this season. He knows Chelsea well having spent four years with Mourinho at the club, and he is likely to be a serious candidate for the appointment assuming he wants the job.
Abramovich may see Villas-Boas as a more workable version of Jose Mourinho. He has many of the same attributes and has shown a similar level of success in his short managerial career thus far. Whether the Russian would take a gamble on such an experienced manager remains to be seen, but he is a serious contender.
Rijkaard has been recommended by Guus Hiddink, whose word holds great sway with the Russian owner. The Dutchman has admitted that he would jump at the chance to manage Chelsea, and he is another one with a Champions League trophy on his resume.
He had a good spell at Barcelona, winning two titles and the Champions League during his five-year spell and arguably setting the foundations for Guardiola’s all-conquering side. However, a disappointing spell in Turkey has lessened his reputation marginally.
If he came in tandem with Hiddink, it could be a Dutch dream-team that Chelsea fans would likely warm to. He is surely one of the leading candidates, given his availability, interest and past managerial record, and it would be no surprise to see him in the Stamford Bridge dugout before long.
Marco Van Basten is the other of the two men that Guus Hiddink has recommended to Roman Abramovich. Arguably one of the best players of his generation, his success has yet to translate to the managerial level. He led Holland to two tournaments, but failed to get further than the quarterfinals in either, and then had an ill-fated spell at Ajax, where he left after only one season after failing to reach the Champions League.
He famously dropped a number of older and big-name players during his spell at Holland, which may have impressed Abramovich, but his record as a manager is nothing to write home about, and he appears to be another of the current generation of younger managers who are living on their past reputation as a player.
In my opinion, he would be a disastrous appointment for Chelsea, despite the support of Guus Hiddink. Average performances with Holland and a nightmare at Ajax hardly make up a resume that should lead to a job at one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
The Spaniard is still looking for a new job since leaving Inter in December. Despite never having great success in the league at Liverpool, he did lead them to two Champions League finals in three years, winning it once in Istanbul. He still remains the last manager to win La Liga with a side outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
He is keen to return to the Premiership and Abramovich’s signing of Fernando Torres could hint at a possible move for Benitez in the summer. Under Benitez, Torres was in the prime of his career and was arguably one of the best strikers on the planet. If the Russian feels that Benitez could get the best out of Torres once again, he could be a real dark horse.
Benitez would be a controversial appointment at Chelsea, but his record in the Champions League is likely to attract Abramovich. Reaching two finals, knocking out Chelsea twice, will have stuck in his mind, and his previous relationship with Torres may give him an edge.
The experienced Italian, who led his country to World Cup victory in 2006, has admitted a desire to work in the Premiership in the near future. He has reached the final of the Champions League on four occasions, winning it once, and is often mentioned as one of the greatest managers of all time.
He claimed that he would be very interested in managing Chelsea, but having been out of club management since leaving Juventus in 2004, there may be worries that he is out of touch with the modern game. Also, he received a lot of criticism for omitting the younger players for Italy’s 2010 World Cup campaign, which, given the desire to reduce the average age of the Chelsea side, does not augur well.
He has won everything there is to win at club and international level, but Chelsea may be looking for a younger manager to revitalise an ageing squad. In addition, the relative struggles of Italian managers, such as Ancelotti and Mancini, this season may put Abramovich off heading down this path.
If Sunday newspapers are to be believed, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is one of the contenders to replace Carlo Ancelotti in the summer. However, it would surely be one of the more unlikely appointments of recent years. While he has done a good job at Spurs, he is simply not a glamour choice, which, given his reputation, is likely to be one of the things that Roman Abramovich is looking for.
He has also admitted that the pressure that comes with the England job would make him think twice about that job and at a club such as Chelsea, the pressure on him is likely to be intense, particularly if he does not make a quick start to the season.
Redknapp has denied that there has been any contact between him and Chelsea, and for once, I am tempted to believe him. His side performed well in the Champions League, which will have caught the eye of Abramovich, but it would be a huge surprise were he to move to Spurs’ London rivals.
A real outsider, but he has won the League 1 title in his first season as a manager, and given his past with Chelsea, his name will undoubtedly be mentioned. He spent four years as a player at Stamford Bridge and has admitted that he would be interested in managing the club at some point in the future.
He has got his Brighton side playing some excellent football over the past year and arguably has a bright future as a manager. However, he is very inexperienced and unlikely to be given real consideration for the job this time around.
Given the poor record of a number of young managers brought into the Premiership recently, Abramovich is unlikely to turn to Poyet this time around. However, if he continues to impress, he may well be a serious contender in the future.