It is clear that Rafa Benitez will not be given extended time, or rope to hang himself, further than the end of the English football season. Even if Chelsea win the FA Cup, Europa League and finish in third place in the Premier League to gain automatic qualification to next season’s Champions League ahead of their north London rivals Arsenal & Tottenham, there will be a new Chelsea manager leading the team out come August. But what isn’t clear is who the next short-term, full-time Chelsea Manager will be.
Two of the favourites have recently said they would love to return to the Premier League but have stopped short of stating they would love a return to Stamford Bridge to complete unfinished business – Guus Hiddink and the bookies overwhelming favourite, Jose Mourinho.
Jose Mourinho is still on course to win the Champions League for Real Madrid and become the first manager to win with three different clubs in three different countries. With Porto and Inter Milan he won the biggest prize of all. But with Chelsea he failed to deliver the goods that owner Roman Abramovich desires so much as Mourinho the tactical genius was thwarted by Liverpool and Barcelona, beating Chelsea at the semi-final stage. Since Mourinho’s departure Chelsea have reached the Champions League final twice with two managers that were then sacked.
In 2009 Guus Hiddink was courted by Roman Abramovich while he was the Russia national team coach. Hiddink’s experience and coaching tactics was well received by the players for the few months he remained as caretaker manager and led Chelsea to victory in the FA Cup. Hiddink is a man of his word and isn’t known for breaking contracts or walking out on an unfinished project. He decided to stay with Russia, and Chelsea turned to Carlo Ancellotti. From Russia Guus Hiddink spent one year coaching the Turkey national side before making a move back to Russia and club management in 2012 with big spending Anzhi Makhachkala.
According to reports, Jose Mourinhno has already had meetings with Chelsea about returning to Stamford Bridge which underlines why he has become the odds on favourite with the bookies ahead of Fabio Capello, David Moyes (12/1), and Gianfranco Zola, Guus Hiddink (14/1).
Zola maybe a Chelsea legend as a player, but he is too inexperienced for a club like Chelsea. While David Moyes, who has hinted on a possible move in the summer, has experience and admiration from other managers and players alike. But I would be surprised if Abramovich went for Moyes and Moyes for Chelsea. It’s about as unlikely as Liverpool’s Michael Owen signing for Manchester United!
Fabio Capello isn’t known for getting his team to play exciting football in the style of Barcelona, but then again nor is Jose Mourinho; and I can’t see why Abramovich would choose Capello over Hiddink. But one young manager who has caught the eye this season, and may well be courted by a big money move is Swansea’s Michael Laudrup (20/1) who has had the Swans playing exciting to watch football and in the process has won the League Cup in his first season in the English Premiership.
Finally, while Abramovich may have concerns about re-employing Mourinho, the fact that if he doesn’t Manchester City might, is probably reason to think again. So, who will be the next manager of Chelsea FC – Guus Hiddink or Jose Mourinho?