Abramovich continues search for the right man
With Rafael Benitez confirming last week that he would not be at Chelsea past the end of the season, the hunt is on once again to find a manager that can bring Roman Abramovich the success and style of football that he craves. Here we look at the main contenders for the job and a few of the outsiders.
Undoubtedly the fans’ favourite for the job. The self-proclaimed special one is having a tough time in Madrid with his team currently 13 points behind Barcelona in La Liga. Recent victories over Barcelona in league and cup, plus continued progression in the Champions League, means that the pressure has relented a little. It is clear though that Mourinho does not have a good relationship with the Madrid board and his constant quotes that his next job will be in England shows that the time may be right for a return.
The only question is whether Chelsea will be his destination. With Roberto Mancini’s position at Manchester City looking increasingly unstable, it may need Abramovich’s personal intervention to stop Mourinho being lured by Sheikh Mansour’s billions.
Rumours have already begun that Capello is disillusioned with life as Russia manager. Having spent a number of years now as an international manager, the Italian may well be looking for one last challenge as a club manager before retirement. Abramovich has shown interest in appointing Capello in the past and with his close ties to the Russian national team he may well find it easy to negotiate a way out of the coach’s contract.
The only drawback would be the negative fans reaction as Capello’s time in charge of England is mostly remembered for the disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign. Abramovich has shown though he does not take much notice of the fans view with the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo and the subsequent appointment of Benitez.
A favourite of the Chelsea board and the fans, Hiddink would be a popular choice. A successful short stint as Chelsea boss in 2009 culminated in an FA Cup victory, a runners-up spot in the Premiership and being seconds away from the Champions League final.
A close friend and advisor to Abramovich makes Hiddink one of the outstanding candidates for the role. Despite the fact that the Dutchman has announced his retirement at the end of this season once his contract with Anzhi Makhachkala ends, a plea from his good friend may be enough to persuade him.
Currently third favourite with a few bookmakers, will the Everton manager finally get his reward for the outstanding job he has done at Goodison Park? At Everton he has built a team which is solid at the back and one that attacks with pace and variation. He has done this on a limited budget and has a good track record with signings as shown by the likes of Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar, Phil Jagielka and Tim Howard.
With the vast resources on offer at Stamford Bridge he should be able to unearth even more talent. The only question mark over this appointment would be the apparent reluctance of Abramovich to appoint a British manager and whether Moyes is a big enough name for him.
There are also a number of other candidates that may come into the reckoning. Gus Poyet and Gianfranco Zola would also be popular choices among the fans for obvious reasons. Both have proved their worth in the Championship this season with Brighton and Watford as two of the most attractive passing teams to watch and both may be celebrating promotion to the Premiership come May.
Michael Laudrup has certainly come into the frame since Swansea’s first major cup triumph a couple of weeks ago. Their possession football would certainly appeal to Abramovich, who craves to watch his team play like Barcelona, and his ability in the transfer market is unquestionable with the signings of Michu, Pablo Hernandez and Jonathan De Guzman prime examples.
Jurgen Klopp may also be under consideration after his stunning performance with Dortmund in the last few years. Despite his constant reassurance to Dortmund supporters that he is not going anywhere, the imminent sale of star striker Robert Lewandowski and undoubted interest in the likes of Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels may make him re-think his position if the board do not back him.
By Chris Newman