james debate
james debate

Monday 2 June 2008

As anyone even vaguely interested in football will have seen recently, Chelsea have sacked Avram Grant and are now searching for a new manager. Anyone who reads my blog will know how anti-Grant I have tended to be this year, and yet I can't help but feel like this sacking is a little harsh given how the season turned out. Runners up in the league, runners up in the carling cup and if not for the wet ground beneath a very unlucky John Terry they would be European champions too. I suppose the justification would be that if not for a few games lost through quite awful grant blunders we probably would have won at least two of those, and considering that for the past 3 seasons we have had a minimum of two trophies every year, zero this year must be looked at as a failure, no matter what the mitigating circumstances. No, what I think this sacking is more about is image. Chelsea are well aware of how the fans have felt since the sacking of Mourinho, as well as the benefit of looking good in the media with a more charismatic manager. Grant failed on both these fronts and with the next manager Chelsea will be looking to remedy this.

So now I will briefily go over the media's supposed 'favorites' for the job, as well as run the rule over which ones would be a good appointment and which ones fail on an epic scale.

José Mourinho:
As incredible as it may sound, there were many early reports that a sensational comeback by the special one might be on the cards. This came about following the repair of the relationship between José and club owner Roman Abramovich, with reports claiming that the two had been meeting up several times over the past few months, and that Roman bought a rare ferrari worth 2 million pounds for the special one. This on top of comments from José himself in which he has said on numerous occasions that he would like to return to Chelsea one day. However this seems incredibly unlikely to happen now, with rumours suggesting that José is too close to agreeing a deal with Inter Milan to back out now.
Verdict:Not gonna happen this time, try again in a few years.

Guus Hiddink:
Close friend of Abramovich, currently managing the Russian national team and having his wages partly paid by Abramovich himself, Guus has long been linked with a move to the bridge. He comes with a very impressive CV, having won the holy grail of the champions league with relative minnows PSV, and taken much more definitely minnowish national teams of South Korea and Australia on impressive cup runs in the world cups. Sadly the fact is that he is under contract, and as I have mentioned he has been linked several times, and each time claimed absolutely zero interest.
Verdict:He doesn't want the job, now can we please leave the poor man alone?

Frank Rijkaard:
Outgoing Barcelona boss, with a glittering cv with an almost invincible Barca side who won the league and champions league, but has disappointed in the last two years, where his team has looked worryingly flat without an in-form Ronaldinho. Is available and has the experience, but is not well liked by Chelsea fans. Considering he is out of a job, you'd have to think that if Chelsea wanted him a deal would have been done by now.
Verdict:Despite his consistent position as media favorite, I would expect Rijkaard to be an outsider due to the fact that the fans would likely not be appreciative, and a deal wouldn't be taking this long if he was top of Chelsea's shortlist.

Roberto Mancini:
Another early favorite for the job, mostly due to persistent (and now confirmed) rumours that he was on the verge of being sacked by Inter Milan, with José Mourinho taking his place. Comes with what appears to be an impressive cv, having won three consecutive league titles at Inter Milan, but the more well informed football fan will note the vast sums of money that Mancini has had to spend, rivalling that which Chelsea have had to spend, as well as the fact that he didn't win anything until all his title rivals were relegated/had points deducted following the massive referee scandal in Italy. This obviously has had a major effect on his title fortunes.
Verdict:Likely to be in talks with Chelsea, but if they have any sense they'll see how misleading his cv actually is and appoint someone more talented

Marcello Lippi:
Highly experienced world cup winning coach, who is currently without a job. This is matched by an equally impressive club cv. Would instantly command the respect of the players, but is reported not to be interested in a move to England, possibly because he doesn't actually speak english, which would clearly be a barrier. Surprisingly unfavoured by the media compared to some other managers.
Verdict:Chelsea have certainly been in touch, but likely been rebuffed.

Sven Goran Eriksson:
Everyone knows this man. Former England boss, dogged by controversy and hounded out of his job by the English press, whose accomplishments now look heady in comparison to the malaise that has followed. Has an intimidating club cv as well, but after a fantastic start at Man City hit a terrible slump that has reportedly been too much for Thai club owner Thaksin Shinawatra and Man City are looking for replacements, without Sven having actually been sacked yet. In the biggest twist of irony ex Chelsea manager Avram Grant is one of the names that has been linked with this position. Sven is another favorite in the media, largely down to the famous 'meetings' between Sven and Roman during the time of Ranieri, but recent reports suggest he is on the verge of taking the job as the manager of the Mexican national team. Chelsea fans are highly divided on him.
Verdict:A name this big was always going to be linked with the job, but don't bet on it, would be a waste of your cash

Mark Hughes:
Hughes has been highly impressive as Blackburn manager and is widely tipped for great things as a manager. The fact that he is an ex Chelsea player and a former legend of the game from his playing time means that he would instantly win over the majority of the fans and players. The one issue with him is that he has yet to add any silverware to his cv, mind you he has yet to manager a top team yet. Supposedly Peter Kenyon's nod to get the job.
Verdict:Very much in the frame, but perhaps too soon for him, but could turn out to be an absolutely inspired decision if appointed. Worth the risk.

Luiz Filipe Scolari:
Another ex world cup winner with bags of experience and a man who commands the respect of any players in his team. Scolari will also be leaving his current job as coach of Portugal after Euro 2008, so will be looking for a job. Is a man who is constantly followed by controversy due to his conduct, which is likely something Chelsea would rather avoid after incidents with Mourinho, a more extreme version of José is really the last thing their image needs, despite his credentials as a manager. Worth noting, the fact that this appointment is taking so long seems to indicate that the club is waiting for someone at Euro 2008 to become available, someone like Scolari.
Verdict:Surely being considered, but likely to be considered too much of a loose cannon for the job.

Carlo Ancelotti:
Currently the manager of AC Milan, Carlo has brought a lot of succes to his club, not just domestically but in Europe as well. Following a woeful season at Milan, this could be a good time for him to leave. Supposedly Roman's favorite for the job, supposedly because he might bring Kaka with him, if you believe that sort of thing, which I don't really. Has all the credentials needed, but somehow fails to excite the Chelsea fans.
Verdict:A likely contender if Milan want to let him go, but wouldn't be my pick.

Other Worth mentions: Slaven Billic, Dick Advocaat, Gianfranco Zola, Didier Deschamps, Zico

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