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Next Chelsea manager: 10 bosses to be in charge on first day of 2016/17

| 02.02.2016

Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | January 30, 2016

Chelsea face another footballing crossroads in the Roman Abramovich era this coming summer, with speculation over who will be their next permanent manager showing no signs of melting away.

While Blues caretaker Guus Hiddink is a 9/1 chance with Coral to see his second spell at Stamford Bridge extended indefinitely, and with seemingly Manchester City-bound Pep Guardiola at the same pirce, bookmakers are far from certain about who Russian oligarch Abramovich will hand the reins to.

Neither Hiddink, who turns 70 before 2016 is out, nor Guardiola appears a viable option for Chelsea, so who is? Our football experts have got their heads together and look at the pros and cons of 10 potential candidates to be Blues boss.

While we’ve previously assessed Abramovich’s options in a wider context before the sacking of Jose Mourinho, here it’s a matter of specific individuals.

Massimiliano Allegri

Italy Soccer Serie A

In his second season with Juventus, Allegri has brought about a domestic revival at the Old Lady, steering them to 15 consecutive Serie A and Coppa Italia victories. This followed a disastrous start to yet another Scudetto defence where Juve won just one of their opening six league matches.

Allegri has not taken on easy jobs, coaching Cagliari before arriving at AC Milan and winning his first of two Serie A titles there in 2010/11, with the second following in Turin last term.

Equipped with a fantastic front three of recent Chelsea loan acquisition Alexandre Pato, fellow Brazil international Robinho and Sweden superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, such San Siro forward threats were supplemented by a spine that contained Thiago Silva, Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta and Gennaro Gattuso.

Yet much of the blame for Milan’s domestic decline lies at Allegri’s door. Silva and Ibrahimovic – the Rossoneri’s key men in respective boxes – were both sold to PSG on his watch. Replacing them proved a task he failed to achieve.

Another unwanted distinction that counts against Allegri is he has twice got rid of iconic Azzurri playmaker Andrea Pirlo. Other notable Old Lady exits during his Turin tenure include Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez, so has he ever done enough to keep established talent in his teams?

How much credit can Allegri, an 18/1 chance to be next Blues boss, claim for his Scudetto successes? That Milan roster was still largely comprised of players from Carlo Ancelotti’s era. And the same can be said of Juventus’ Antonio Conte dynasty. We’ll come onto him next…

Antonio Conte

Italy Romania Soccer

Answering his country’s call following their underwhelming group stage exit at the last World Cup, Conte has found international coaching more difficult after scooping three Serie A titles on the spin with Juve.

Under his management, the Azzurri have not beaten one of world football’s renowned sides since defeating the Netherlands when Conte made his bow as a boss on this stage in September 2014. He has, nonetheless, steered Italy to Euro 2016 despite a number of draws en route.

As with Allegri above, there is an Italian tradition at Chelsea, though Conte lacks the personal connection to the Bridge that club heroes Roberto Di Matteo, Gianluca Vialli and Gianfranco Zola enjoy.

Instead synonymous with Juventus where he spent 13 years playing midfield and a further three managing the Old Lady, Conte is an eyebrow-raising 5/2 second-favourite to be next Blues boss.

It appears to be a price based upon his availability this summer when his contract with the Italian FA (FIGC) is up, and the tabloid rumour mill claiming he will seek a return to club coaching with Conte reportedly prepared to go outside his homeland for a job.

While success in Turin did not happen by accident, Conte has a lot to prove and is yet to replicate such results elsewhere. It’s hard to see Abramovich being keen on his favoured 3-5-2 formation either, which is rather old hat in Premier League terms.

Didier Deschamps

France v Germany - International Friendly - Stade de France

If Chelsea seek someone who has done it all as a player, then France boss Deschamps is the ideal candidate. He spent a season in west London (1999/2000) towards the end of a glittering career on the field.

Playing in four Champions League finals (and on the bench for a fifth), 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning captain Deschamps also coached Monaco to a runners-up spot in Europe’s elite club competition behind Mourinho in 2004, who was subsequently recruited from Porto by Abramovich.

From there, Deschamps stepped in and restored former club Juventus to Serie A after the 2006 match-fixing scandal saw them relegated. He then guided another old side, Marseille, to four trophies in three seasons.

Building a Les Bleus national roster that is about teamwork and leaving maverick or undesirable elements out of favour, Deschamps is an 11/4 favourite to take his country to Euro 2016 glory on home soil.

Is he the exception to the rule about great players making poor managers? If Deschamps delivers for France in the dugout as he did on the pitch, then surely he could be persuaded by Abramovich to quit while he was ahead.

Considering the fact he has come back to other old stomping grounds, a 14/1 price for Deschamps to coach Chelsea cannot be ruled out.

Eddie Howe

Britain Soccer Premier League

The name of Bournemouth boss Howe apparently appears to Abramovich’s shortlist, according to some sections of the British press. At 38, it would be a big gamble to go with a manager who will have just a single season of top-flight coaching experience under his belt come this summer.

Andre Villas-Boas was younger when he got the nod, but his Bridge stint was brief – less than nine months. Howe has parted company with the Cherries before, but failed to replicate such success at Burnley.

Dean Court, for now, still looks like the perfect place for him to continue his coaching career. Howe must be wiser than other hungry, ambitious bosses who perhaps seek too much too soon.

Coral haven’t even priced Howe up to take on the Blues, so that in itself is very revealing about how realistic the rumours are considered to be.

It would amount to a monumental punt on Chelsea’s part at present. Perhaps a few years down the line it would be a different story.

Should Bournemouth become an established Premier League outfit during that time, then interest in Howe’s services will increase, but those credentials must first be proved at this level.

Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes File Photo

Stoke City a watchable brand? Nobody would ever have described them thus during Tony Pulis’ time in charge.

Hughes, who like Deschamps is a former Blues player, has rebuilt his managerial reputation at the Potters, pulling off coup captures galore to transform the Britannia Stadium side into a top half Premier League team.

Is he a man burned by previously being overambitious? Excellent work with Blackburn Rovers reportedly left Hughes facing a decision between returning to Chelsea or moving to Manchester City in the summer of 2008.

While hindsight is a wonderful thing, taking on the Etihad outfit was a mistake for ex-Manchester United forward Hughes. Only now, more than six years since being sacked by Man City, has the stain been washed away with plaudits aplenty for masterminding Stoke’s run to the Capital One Cup semi-finals.

And yet, his big name status as a player making him able to attract talent to teams notwithstanding, semi-finals are all Hughes has managed since moving into the dugout. Five times in domestic cup competitions he has steered Rovers, City and the Potters to within touching distance of silverware.

So-nearly man Hughes is a tempting 12/1 chance to be Chelsea’s next boss nonetheless, but Abramovich would expect him to improve on that elusive trophy hunt in coaching.

Ronald Koeman

Southampton v Crystal Palace - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - St Mary's Stadium

Hiddink acolyte Koeman is hoping for a recommendation from his mentor to succeed the veteran interim boss at the Bridge, according to the tabloids.

At selling club Southampton, a top seven finish in Koeman’s maiden campaign in English football was nothing short of remarkable in the circumstances.

While his second season has been more difficult, this summer is likely to be ultimatum territory at St Mary’s. Koeman needs backing, so if the Saints board don’t stop cashing in on their undoubted talents, it is widely anticipated that he will walk away.

Best known for scoring the winner in the 1992 European Cup final as Barcelona silenced Sampdoria, Koeman’s playing career contained previous continental success at both PSV Eindhoven and with the Netherlands during a magical 1988.

Koeman has coached far bigger clubs than Southampton, most notably all of his native Netherlands’ big three teams, Benfica and Valencia, with whom he lifted the Copa del Rey.

Odds of 20/1 to take over as Blues boss are relatively long, but Koeman’s connection with Hiddink should not be underestimated by punters, with Abramovich sure to seek the opinion of his two-time caretaker about a successor.

Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - White Hart Lane

We now move from the current Saints boss to his predecessor Pochettino, who has stepped up a level and has Spurs as 8/1 joint third-favourites for the Premier League title.

Should that come to pass across the capital, then Chelsea would look enviously at Tottenham’s against all odds achievement, and are one of two top-flight heavyweights reportedly interested in poaching Pochettino.

Manchester United has been mentioned in dispatches as an alternative ultimate destination for the Argentine coach, and that looks in all honesty a better fit for Pochettino because Red Devils traditions more reflect his philosophy – a word Old Trafford incumbent Louis van Gaal is so fond of.

Abramovich’s approach during more than a dozen years at Chelsea to date has been based on aggressive recruitment, or what cynics would call buying trophies. not nurturing and bringing through young talent.

Pochettino thus seems at odds with the Blues’ business model, unless they are prepared to change tack and allow him to start blooding some of the plethora of youngsters on the books that get farmed out on loan.

It is not surprising, then, to see Pochettino pegged at double his odds to be next Man Utd manager (12/1) than to be in charge of Chelsea on the first day of next term (25/1).

Claudio Ranieri

Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City - Emirates FA Cup - Third Round - White Hart Lane

They say never go back, and yet there is speculation that Abramovich would consider bringing his tenure as Blues owner full circle by rehiring Ranieri – the man he axed in the summer of 2004 to make way for Mourinho.

Leicester City have proved to be the quintessential surprise package this term, and they sit alongside Spurs at 8/1 in the Premier League title race betting.

After 23 games and shedding his ‘Tinkerman’ moniker, Ranieri has the Foxes three points clear at the top. As has been widely noted, the contrast with where the East Midlands outfit were 12 months ago is stark.

When it comes to these rumours about a Ranieri return to Chelsea, there is considerable doubt. If he wasn’t the man for Abramovich when the Russian took over in the Bridge boardroom, then why has one season with plucky overachievers Leicester changes that?

Adopting a healthy skepticism is thus advised. For all Ranieri’s qualities, what possible incentive could he have to move back to the Blues when he knows the ruthless nature of Abramovich?

Punters again find such considerations reflected by lengthy odds of 20/1 for Ranieri to have a Second Coming at Chelsea, where undoubtedly there is unfinished business.

Jorge Sampaoli

Uruguay Chile Soccer WCup

Wider football audiences could be forgiven for not having heard of the third man on FIFA’s World Coach of the Year 2015 shortlist after winner Luis Enrique and Guardiola.

Sampaoli steered hosts Chile to a Copa America success last summer, but has subsequently resigned after falling out with the nation’s new football federation president.

The Argentine was linked with Swansea City when chairman Huw Jenkins flew out to South America in December, but now finds himself tipped to take charge of Chelsea.

Although he built superbly on inspirational and unorthodox tactical foundations laid by admired compatriot Marcelo Bielsa, Sampaoli has no working knowledge of football in continental Europe, let alone England.

Yet a lack of Premier League experience has not proved a handicap for the likes of fellow Hispanic coaches Pochettino and Manuel Pellegrini when both came over in 2013.

Rated Coral’s 13/8 favourite to be Blues boss come next season, Sampaoli would work with a number of Latin American and Spanish/Portuguese speakers headed by the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa.

Diego Simeone

Atletico de Madrid v Seville - La Liga - Vicente Caldron Stadium

Atletico Madrid manager Simeone completes a hat-trick of Argentine bosses linked with Stamford Bridge, and is by far the most high-profile.

A tenacious centurion and captain of his country, Simeone’s coaching credentials have come to the fore at the Vicente Calderon, with Europa League and La Liga successes, as well as a run to the Champions League final on his CV.

Passing four years in charge at Atleti, which is by some distance his longest time in a job, Simeone is clearly building something in the Spanish capital. He has attacked the problem of challenging the El Clasico duopoly with the same passion that he displayed when playing in midfield.

Why leave Madrid? It will never be too comfortable a post because the elite clubs around Europe always snap up talent that excels, with Sergio Aguero a notable example.

Almost half of Atletico’s squad are fellow South Americans, and Simeone is best known in England as a pantomime villain who played his part in that infamous David Beckham sending off at France ’98.

Despite all that, Simeone is a 10/1 chance to be Chelsea boss come the start of next season, and could well be the one Abramovich chases with Guardiola apparently out of reach.


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Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.