The wolves are gathering at the door for the self-appointed “Special One.” A fresh charge of misconduct by the English FA will do nothing to appease owner Roman Abramovich, a man so ruthless he fires managers in his sleep. The Russian oligarch will be growing tired of the antics of the Portuguese coach and quite frankly who could blame him?
For the first time in his managerial career, Jose is clearly showing the signs of pressure. During his 7-minute diatribe after the 3-1 loss at home to Southampton, he made a poignant remark about Chelsea Football Club. Among the various rants and ravings, he said Chelsea needs to back their most successful coach to stem the bleeding of managers heading in and out the exit door.
A nice idea in theory, but when an oil baron billionaire buys you out you’re always at the whim of his decisions. It’s a case of don’t bite the hand that feeds. If Abramovich brought Mourinho back to Stamford Bridge for a second stint, whose to say he won’t repeat history again and send him packing? 15th in the table tells it’s own story.
There will be no shortage of suitors to take the hot seat. Managers with the best pedigree in the game have been dispensed with at the drop of a hat and gone on to win leagues, cups and Champions League titles elsewhere. From the English Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A or the free market, there are plenty of good candidates out there.
Jose will hate us for compiling this list. A majority of these managers are on his hit list, holding a grudge for a bust up in one way or another. But this is the problem for Jose – his determination to drive an “us against them” agenda eventually turns everyone against him!
Here are the top 20 candidates to oust Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.
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20 Roberto Di Matteo
We know, we’ve been here before but you can’t deny that a Champions League winning manager on the open market is a cheap fix for Roman. That European success so happened to be with the blues when they stunned the soccer world to beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on penalties in 2012. His stint with Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga didn’t go as planned as the former Italian international plots his next move into management. Potential friction with the owner could be a major stumbling block, that is, if he is in the frame to come back a second time.
19 Steve Clarke
The 52-year old Scot knows the inner workings of Stamford Bridge better than most. Currently in charge of English Championship outfit Reading FC, Clarke will be desperate to come back into the big leagues where he oversaw West Bromwich Albion’s push to safety in 2013. A Mourinho disciple from his assistant days, the appointment of Clarke would see the rare event where a British coach took charge of one of the big boys in the EPL.
18 Marcelo Bielsa
This hotheaded Argentine is a full-blooded renegade. Bielsa is adored by the best in the business, Pep Guardiola, for being unapologetically stubborn in his pursuit of “sexy football.” His Athletic Bilbao side embarrassed Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Europa League, pressing and passing the Red Devils off the pitch. Big Marcelo left French side Marseille after just the one game into this season and he’ll have his phone handy if the call is made.
17 Gianfranco Zola
The mini maestro Zola is a fans favorite in West London, amassing 59 goals for the blues during a glittering 7-year spell. The little number ten has had a mixed bag as coach, covering the hot seat at London rivals West Ham before managing the Italian Under 16s, Watford, Cagliari and now finds himself in the football wilderness with Al-Arabi in Qatar. If he has any ambition as a manager he’d grab the opportunity with both hands and it’s fair to say he would be a huge PR win for the club, especially in comparison to Jose.
16 Unai Emery
Consecutive Europa League titles with La Liga outfit Sevilla only tells half the story for this Iberian manager. Emery kicks every ball on the touchline, barking instructions like an absolute lunatic. Yet the results speak for themselves, overcoming a sticky spell with Spartak Moscow to take the Spanish outfit from strength to strength. A little older and a little wiser, Emery has been linked with various EPL clubs before and a move to England could be on the cards.
15 Aitor Karanka
Karanka’s stock is soaring and people are buying. The Middlesbrough supremeo learnt his craft under the Portuguese boss with Real Madrid, but decided to park the mind games in the media. This diligent Spaniard is trying his best to elevate the Championship club at the Riverside to the EPL. Like Steve Clarke, his ambition to manage at the top level is burning. At 42 is he too young and inexperienced to coach at Chelsea? Only one man knows the answer to that.
14 Alan Pardew
It’s put up or shut up time for Pards. The English manager is his own biggest fan and like any coach with a huge ego, he must jump at a big opportunity and the Chelsea job is that opportunity. His smugness is a downside for fans, even though he is loved and adored at Crystal Palace. He’s had his moments, particularly this headbutt of Hull City player David Meyler a few years ago during his spell at Newcastle. Pardew is the bookies favorite to take over from Roy Hodgson for England, so it’s up to him if he wants to cash in on his stock now or wait for the national job.
13 Eduardo Berizzo
Often the best managers are the hungry ones, unproven on the big stage but eager to make their mark against their more favored counterparts. Eduardo Berizzo fits that mold to a tea, skyrocketing La Liga side Celta de Vigo into the top four during the early stages of this season. Outside of a short playing stint with Marseille he’s only operated in Spanish speaking countries, so the cultural barrier into the hot pit of England could be too big an ask for Berizzo at this stage of his career.
12 Guus Hiddink
If you are foolish enough to believe what you read in the papers, the return of old Guus could be on. The 68-year old Dutch veteran is odds on with bookies, paving the way for a potential return to the scene where he won the FA Cup, the players admiration and the support of the jaded Stamford Bridge faithful. He failed horribly with the Holland national job, but that country appears to be in a crisis beyond the control of any coach. His CV speaks for itself, whether it’s with a club or on the international stage at World Cups. Has the added benefit of getting on well with Abramovich, and in this business it’s not always what you know but who you know.
11 Fabio Capello
At 69 and seemingly retired from all things football, Italian manager Fabio Capello might have put the cue in the rack. But then again, old habits die hard. His pop at Mourinho to state on the record that the Portuguese coach burns out his players after a short spell, indicates a possible desire to come back into the fray and manage again. He has previous with Abramovich, seeking the help of the oil baron to bail him out when a pay dispute arose with the Russian national job. Wouldn’t be a fans favorite by any measure but has the experience of winning domestic trophies like few others can boast.
10 Nuno Espirito Santo
Nuno is possibly the oldest looking 41-year old coaching in the game and this means he might not have the longest of shelf lives in football. The Portuguese compatriot to Jose had a stellar start to life in management in 2014 when he took a modest Valencia outfit into the top 4 to qualify for the Champions League last season. Results have dipped a bit on last season but there is still a clear identity to his team and a fluency that Chelsea is lacking.
9 Claudio Ranieri
Wouldn’t Mourinho just hate this? The two men famously don’t get along after Jose took over from the Italian in 2004, taking a pop at his predecessor in the process. The truth is somewhat different, as Ranieri was there in the early stages of Abramovich’s reign at Stamford Bridge. After some dire coaching spells, including a horror time in Greece where he lost twice to the Faroe Islands, Claudio is riding high with Leicester City in the top 5 in the league. He’s a polite, humble man but we think he’d love nothing more than to step in to clean Jose’s mess.
8 Dieter Hecking
A left field suggestion for the man who sounds and looks like a James Bond villain. The current Wolfsburg boss has his team drilled, guiding them to a Champions League birth whilst unearthing some gems in the process. From Kevin de Bruyne, Bas Dost, Daniel Caligiuri, Joshua Guilavougi, Maximilian Arnold and others, Hecking has a proven ability of turning water into wine. His no nonsense approach might just be the right tonic for the Chelsea group as well.
7 Slaven Bilic
Who better to replace Mourinho than the man with his most recent league scalp? Bilic’s West Ham United waited patiently before injecting Andy Carroll to head home for the 2-1 win. While Jose was being banished to the grandstand for confronting the referee at halftime over Nemanja Matic’s send off, Bilic kept his cool and remained determined to see the Hammers home. Very popular with the London media, the Croatian is in good form for a coach.
6 Brendan Rodgers
The cult of Rodgers might have left the building this season, but he’s far from a finished force as a football manager. The 42-year old is yet another Mourinho disciple when he learned his trade as a Chelsea assistant in his mid 30s, and he’ll know his way around the club. If the Northern Irishman is to be a success at the top level he’ll need to readjust his ego and stop delivering predictable sound bites after matches. The David Brent comparison is still uncanny.
5 Roberto Mancini
The Inter Milan coach one day wants to come back to England to set the record straight. The comments come at a strange time because his Inter team are starting to make some progress in their quest to return to the Champions League and compete for the Serie A title, but it explains that the bad blood felt from his sacking at Manchester City still irks the Italian. He has the experience to win domestic trophies and knows the EPL intimately. The question would be whether he would jump ship from a project in Milan that still requires a fair amount of work to be successful. We do miss the stylish scarfs on the sideline though; he was a fashion trend setter.
4 Ronald Koeman
Is Jose still the special one? According to Southampton coach Ronald Koeman – forget about it! What’s special about being 15th in the table and creating fights with everyone? The 52-year old Dutch manager has worked wonders on the South Coast of England, rejuvenating a cheaply assembled Saints squad to lift them on the verge of European qualification. When Mauricio Pochettino left for Spurs and a host of players were sold to rival EPL clubs, it seemed the Southampton were on the verge of collapse. Such is Koeman’s stock at the moment he had the temerity to turn down the Holland national job.
3 Carlo Ancelotti
Would he? Surely not. Not a second time after what happened in 2011. Then again, the calm fatherly figure of Carlo Ancelotti has leaked to the press a desire to come back if he is given the a number of assurances and conditions that meet his demands. He’s won titles, he’s won cups, Champions League titles and is a darling of the media for the respect he gives the media. In that sense he is the polar opposite of Mourinho and the fans still remember him fondly. Don’t be surprised to see Ancelotti in the Stamford Bridge dugout again, should that be his chosen destination after leaving Real Madrid.
2 Diego Simeone
If you have the ability to win the La Liga title in this modern day without being Barcelona or Real Madrid, then quite simply you are a miracle worker. Well that is exactly what Diego Simeone managed with Atletico Madrid, also taking them to a Champions League Final that very same campaign. Simeone galvanizes Atletico like no one else has managed before. The firebrand Argentine bleeds red and white and while it would seem fanciful for him to leave now, he has the self awareness to acknowledge that his time in the Spanish capital will come to an end soon and the prospect of reuniting with Diego Costa and Tibo Courtois could be the right move.
1 Pep Guardiola
Every owner of a soccer club dreams about having this man as their coach. His Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams play the game like non other in the sport. They press the opposition and pass with such beauty and elegance, the only thing they miss is an orchestra to play on the sidelines. Pep is teasing the media on an EPL move, he knows the speculation is out there but he refuses to give anyone anything to work with. The one simple thing he could do to stop people talking is to sign a contract extension at Bayern, but his reluctance to do so means that is open to the move. For Abramovich’s sake, he’ll hope a pre-agreement with Manchester City for next season is just paper talk.
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