The footballing snipers are lined up. Stamford Bridge and The Liberty Stadium are on lock down waiting for their respective orders to act. For José Mourinho and Garry Monk the next few days could be their last at their clubs. But who could be coming into replace them?
After the defeat to Bournemouth, this was always going to be a difficult week for Mourinho, especially with two must win games on the horizon – the midweek game against Porto and then the incredibly tough game against Leicester City at the King Power where the Chelsea owner will be re-introduced to his first managerial victim, Claudio Ranieri. If Abramovich does decide to sack Mourinho for the second time, who are the options to try and steer Chelsea through this crisis?
With the amount of money that José will inevitably cost in compensation after only signing a new 4 year deal in the summer, Chelsea will probably look for a manager without a club even if it is only till the end of the season. An undoubted front runner will be Carlo Ancelotti. I still can’t help but think that Ancelotti’s sacking at Chelsea was unfair and since then the Italian has only embellished his CV further with stints at PSG and Real Madrid. Ancelotti has said he is open to return to the Bridge, and the famed man-manager certainly will be able to fight any fires left over in the post-Mourinho aftermath. Fabio Capello will certainly also be linked. Abramovich will be familiar with Fabio Capello on a more personal level since the Italian’s time in charge of the Russian national team but this wouldn’t be the first time a deal to bring the Italian to Stamford Bridge would have been close. In 2012, when looking to replace Di Matteo, Capello was tipped for the Chelsea job then (Capello to Chelsea – 2012), how close this came to fruition is anyone’s guess but the Italian again boasts a very Abramovich CV; decorated, experienced and despite his years in international management, highly revered as a coach.
Whilst both options would immediately be able to come into the club, the two jewel’s that are catching Abramovich’s gaze are Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone. Guardiola, perpetually linked with almost any big club in the world, is engaged in something of a Mexican stand-off with Bayern Munich. The German club, famed for their organisation, are desperately trying to tie Pep down to an extension on his current deal that runs out next summer. The Spaniard is ever so slightly more reticent in his commitment. The marriage of Chelsea and Guardiola is something that Roman craves for after witnessing Pep’s Barcelona years sometimes however such adoration can be blinding, and questions must be asked if personal and style could match up if Pep was in charge. Step forward Diego Simone. The practical and pragmatic approach to winning football games that the Argentine endorses seems a matched made in heaven with Chelsea and the Premier League. Whilst it might prove mightily hard to extract Simeone from his contract with Atletico Madrid, ‘Cholo’ manages with an aggression that mirrors Mourinho’s but as proved by his time at Atletico, creates a sense of collectively in a squad that isn’t destructive and implosive.
If Mourinho does go, expect a temporary manager to the end of the season with a full time appointment announced at the end of the season before the Euro 2016.
Prediction: Fabio Capello till the end of the season, Diego Simeone permanently next summer.
*Side Note: On BBC Gossip column this morning they reported that Antonio Conte is favourite for the Chelsea job (Daily Star Article) – However, with the Euro’s on the horizon I will find it very hard to believe that Chelsea could prize Conte away from the Italian national team before the summer and if the re-building job continues to escalate at the Bridge, I will find it even harder to believe that Chelsea will be able to wait until after the Euro’s for the right man come next summer.
The position that Garry Monk finds himself in is one that equally saddens myself as much as it is endemic of the world in which Premier League managers operate in today. Whilst many raised their eyebrows when appointed on a full-time basis, Monk was incredibly impressive last season and the season started in equally buoyant mood with Andre Ayew hitting the ground running and scoring goals for fun. Yet since beating Manchester United on the 30th August Swansea have dropped like stone, with no wins in their last 11 games, Monk’s time is seemingly up as chairman Hugh Jenkins looks to get a lift over the Christmas period.
Unlike Chelsea, Jenkins doesn’t do temporary bosses. Respected in football through his view on running a sustainable Premier League club, the sacking of Monk certainly will be taken after a lot of thought. Outsider names being bandied round on betting websites include Roberto Di Matteo, Andre Villas-Boas and Marcelo Bielsa but it is hard to look past two managers. Brendan Rodgers and David Moyes.
Brendan Rodgers, out of work since being relieved of his duties in October from Liverpool, seems a natural fit. After leaving Swansea for Liverpool, Rodgers might see himself in a class above a potential Swansea manager but Swansea retain the same philosophy that Rodgers, Martinez and Paulo Sousa instilled through their rise into the Premier League. Style and Manager is crucial fit and Rodgers will see the likes of Ki, Jack Cork, Montero and Ayew and see a team that he can shape, mould and improve.
David Moyes will equally see Swansea as a potential place to rebuild his career and could be a favoured candidate as Moyes comes a defensive solidarity that Rodgers cannot boast. Every right-minded chairman will remember Moyes for his time at Everton and both the stability and progression that the Scot bought to Goodison. His time at Old Trafford was forever going to be a poisoned chalice as Fergie’s successor and only in hindsight can you see the problems at Manchester United are far more entrenched to be a reflection on Moyes as a manager. It will be interesting to see how his time at Real Sociedad has changed his approach, if at all, too football and a club like Swansea really could be a great place for the Scot to find his feet again as a manager.
Prediction: David Moyes on a full time basis.