Football: Contenders to replace Mourinho at Chelsea

(From left) Brendan Rodgers, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte could be Mourinho replacements.
(From left) Brendan Rodgers, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte could be Mourinho replacements.PHOTO: REUTERS, EPA, AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Jose Mourinho was sacked as Chelsea manager on Thursday after a dismal run that left his team languishing just above the Premier League relegation zone.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at potential candidates to replace Mourinho at Stamford Bridge:

INTERIM CANDIDATES

Guus Hiddink

With Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich likely to seek an interim manager until the end of the season while he searches for a permanent successor, he could turn back the clock and hire Hiddink for a second time.

The Dutchman spent three months in charge of Chelsea from February 2009 after the departure of Luis Felipe Scolari and showed a steady hand as he guided the club to FA Cup glory, finished third in the Premier League and also reached the Champions League semi-finals.

Juande Ramos

Hiring former Tottenham and Real Madrid boss Ramos, even on a short-term basis, would be a surprise move after the Spaniard's brief spell at White Hart Lane ended with the team bottom of the league, but numerous reports claim he is on Abramovich's list of interim contenders.

The 61-year-old, who led Tottenham to a League Cup final win over Chelsea in 2008 before being sacked just months later, has been out of management since leaving Ukrainian outfit Dnipro last year.

 

PERMANENT OPTIONS

Pep Guardiola

A long-time object of Abramovich's affections, Guardiola is undoubtedly top of the Russian's wanted list, but securing the former Barcelona manager's signature may prove tricky.

Abramovich is said to have been snubbed by Guardiola when he tried to hire him during the Spaniard's sabbatical before he opted for Bayern Munich.

His contract with the Bavarians expires at the end of this season, but a possible move to Manchester City, who include several more Barcelona executives in their hierarchy, may be more appealing.

Diego Simeone

The former Argentina midfielder has made his reputation as one of Europe's top coaches during an impressive reign as Atletico Madrid boss.

Ended Barcelona and Real Madrid's dominance of the La Liga title, while also catching Abramovich's attention with a Champions League semi-final win over Mourinho's men in 2014.

Would benefit from having already managed Chelsea duo Thibaut Courtois and Diego Costa at Atletico.

Antonio Conte

The Italy boss may not move ahead of Euro 2016, but reportedly has admirers among the Chelsea hierarchy. He had a glowing career at Juventus, first as a tough-tackling but intelligent midfielder, then as a manager, guiding the Turin giants to three successive Serie A titles.

Fabio Capello

His reputation as a disciplinarian capable of ruling a rebellious dressing room with an iron fist could make him attractive to Abramovich given Mourinho's claim that he was "betrayed" by his players.

The Italian's stock isn't high in the Premier League after his miserable 2010 World Cup campaign with the English national team, but his club pedigree with AC Milan and Real Madrid is unquestionable and he is out of work after leaving the Russia job.

Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers has already spent time at Chelsea under Mourinho as an assistant coach from 2004 to 2008 before leaving to launch his own managerial career.

He almost took Liverpool to their first English title since 1990 with an entertaining brand of attacking play in 2013-14, but the 42-year-old was sacked by in October this year after failing to build on that near miss.