After Jose Mourinho was sacked earlier this month, Guus Hiddink took over as interim manager of Chelsea for the second time since the 2008-2009 season. However it is yet to be seen if he’ll take over permanently as the club will likely be on the lookout for a permanent replacement for the “Special One.”
Jose Mourinho’s demise
Things started to turn sour for Mourinho during the summer. After very little transfer activity, a few losses, not to mention their FA Community Shield loss to Arsenal in August, and their less-than-dominant form in preseason, it wasn’t certain whether or not Chelsea could retain the title. However, speculation was low because it was only preseason, and Mourinho remained confident.
But Chelsea went on to suffer their worst start to a title defense ever, and Mourinho was having by far the worst period of his career. Underperforming players, the controversial dismissal of first-team doctor Eva Carneiro, his divisive comments, and the growing speculation that he had lost the dressing room were all factors that led to Mourinho’s demise at Chelsea — Mourinho had to go.
Chelsea now have until the end of the season to find the best fit possible to take the reigns as manager. For their convenience, I have compiled a list of five possible candidates that could build up the team and that the board, the players, and the fans could get behind.
1. Diego Simeone
Possibly the best fit for Chelsea would be Diego Simeone. The Atletico Madrid boss has spent four and a half years with the La Liga side, helping them win the Europa League and the Copa del Rey before leading them to the title in 2014 in a fashion reminiscent of Mourinho’s feat at Porto in 2004. In the same year, Simeone led Atletico to the Champions League final after knocking out Mourinho’s Chelsea in the semi-finals.
Not only does his record speak for itself, but his reactive, combative and competitive style is a great fit for Chelsea, and former players Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao, although their form has been in decline, exhibited that style perfectly.
Some even say he is an upgraded Mourinho. While there are similarities between Simeone and Mourinho, the no-nonsense Argentinian commands authority and respect from his players while also fostering unity among his team, something that Mourinho lacked in recent months and something that is desperately needed at Stamford Bridge now.
However, Simeone signed a contract with Atletico earlier in 2015 committing himself to the club until 2020. It will not be impossible for a big club like Chelsea to pry him away, but it will be more complicated because of the contract.
To further complicate matters, Simeone doesn’t speak English, This will not affect the west London club’s ability to recruit him so much as it will affect his ability to coach in England. Nevertheless, it is an insignificant problem when compared to the benefits of bringing him to Chelsea.
2. Guus Hiddink
A fan favourite and a personal friend of club owner Roman Abramovich himself, Guus Hiddink certainly deserves a spot on this list. His previous stint in 2009 with Chelsea, leading them to the FA Cup and within minutes of a Champions League final, makes an excellent case.
Not only that, but Hiddink also formed strong bonds with the players, with many of them pleading for him to stay. The Dutchman opted instead to continue on as Russia manager, but the fans as well as the remaining players from 2009, fondly remember his short spell in charge of the club.
To further strengthen his case, he has a lot of experience and is a clever tactician, as he has already demonstrated at Chelsea. Before taking over Chelsea in 2009, he led PSV Eindhoven to six Eredivisie titles, four Dutch Cups, and the 1988 European Cup, as well as managing other clubs such as Fenerbahce, Valencia, Real Madrid, and Real Betis. He also has a fantastic record from his first spell as interim manager, with a 73% win ratio in 22 games — the highest in Chelsea’s history.
Fans should not pin all their hopes on him in the long run, however. He was a great manager in his day, but his star has faded over the last several years. In fact, he has not accomplished anything of late since his brief spell in charge of Chelsea.
Shortly after leading Chelsea to the FA Cup and the Champions League semifinal, Hiddink and his Russian squad failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, following which the Dutchman left his post. He then took the reigns at Turkey, resigning after they failed to qualify for Euro 2012.
He joined Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in 2012 and led them to third place during 2012/13, but he unexpectedly resigned the following season. Then in 2014 he took over as Netherlands manager for a second time, but later resigned after an underwhelming start in the Euro 2016 qualifiers and little success overall.
Again, Hiddink was an excellent manager in his day, and if he were to become the permanent manager of Chelsea, fans would have little to complain about. However, although he may help stabilise the team until the end of the season, promoting him on a permanent basis would not be wise.
3. Jorge Sampaoli
The Chile boss is a recent addition to Abramovich’s shortlist of potential managers. The 55-year-old led Chile to success in the Copa America earlier this year and was named alongside Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique on FIFA’s three-man shortlist for Coach of the Year.
In addition to being one of the stand-out managers of the year, the Chilean is known for his brand of attacking football and high pressing football which Abramovich wants to bring to Chelsea.
Sampaoli is understood to be looking to leave his Chile job soon, which provides an opportunity for him to join the Blues. However, this means he has also drawn attention from other clubs with Swansea City and AS Roma also interested.
Abramovich is understood to be keen on luring Sampaoli to West London, so it’s likely that fans could see the Chilean at Stamford Bridge next season. Sampaoli at the Bridge could be the best thing for the Blues as his brand of attacking football would be just the change that Chelsea need.
4. Antonio Conte
In 2011, Antonio Conte took over at his former club, Juventus and led them to three straight Serie A titles, an unbeaten season, the Coppa Italia final, and wins in the Derby d’Italia. He resigned in 2014 and soon after, stepped up to coach the Italian national team.
Conte has proven that he is an excellent Italian manager as he has also led other Italian sides to success in Italy. However, he has only ever led Italian teams to success, and prior to his managerial career, he has only ever played for Italian sides — every aspect of his football career was born and bred in Italy. Italian football is all he knows.
It would certainly be a strange choice for Abramovich to bring in a manager with no Premier League experience, whose entire career has been hyper-focused on one corner of Europe, and a manager who may or may not speak any English.
Along with this is Conte’s failure to show any progress with Juventus in the Champions League, vastly underperforming in the competition while Max Allegri — regarded as an inferior manager — took Juventus to the Champions League final in his first season following Conte’s departure.
Conte, while an excellent Italian manager, is not the strongest candidate for the job but a potential candidate nonetheless.
5. John Terry/Didier Drogba
While it may be lightly unlikely, it is not unheard of for Chelsea players to take over as bosses after they retire from playing — Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli are two prime examples. With an opening for a permanent manager, could this be a chance for a seasoned Blue to take the reigns?
Out of all of Chelsea’s recent and current players, the best option to take the helm is “captain, leader, legend” John Terry. Blue through and through and a natural leader, Terry has dedicated his whole life to the club, winning everything there is to win for the Blues as well as leading them through rough patches and glory.
However, even though he played every minute of the 2014/15 campaign, his form has suffered a steep decline lately. This comes as no surprise for the 35-year-old, and his time playing for Chelsea may very well be nearing its end. This doesn’t have to mean a departure from the club though as this may be the opportune time for him to begin his managerial career. After all, who better to save Chelsea than a club hero?
Another option is “King” Didier Drogba, whom Hiddink is trying to hire as part of his coaching staff. Another club legend, Drogba would be a beloved leader by all, should he ever rise to the role of manager.
However, neither Terry nor Drogba have any managerial experience whatsoever, which may deter Abramovich from allowing them to manage such a big club right away. If Drogba comes back to London to help Hiddink coach, though, it may provide an opportunity for him to rise through the ranks.
Who would you want to be the new permanent Chelsea manager? Let us know in the comments!