Jose Mourinho sacked: Who will Chelsea turn to next?

Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti
Is Carlo Ancelotti among those eyeing Jose Mourinho's old job?

The king is dead. Long live, well, who?

Chelsea's fans sang Jose Mourinho's name until the end, but ultimately their loyalty and a Premier League triumph seven months ago were no protection from owner Roman Abramovich's ruthless streak.

Now their attention turns to the next man to ride the club's managerial bucking bronco. But who are the potential contenders?

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho
Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho were rivals during their time in La Liga

The pedigree name in the field, but Chelsea will have to battle their way to the front of a long queue of serious suitors.

After winning titles by the cabinet load at Barcelona, the 44-year-old has kept a dressing room of big egos pulling in the right direction at Bayern Munich, taking the Germans to the Champions League last four in both his full seasons in charge.

Record at Bayern Munich
GamesWinsDefeatsGoals scoredWin percentage
8468821981%

Chelsea would represent a different challenge as he was handed an excellent legacy to build on at both the Nou Camp and Allianz Arena. But few would back against him repeating his success.

The good news for Chelsea fans is German newspaper Bild reported on Thursday that Guardiola will leave the Bavarian club at the end of this season.

The bad news is he seems more likely to be heading to the north west than SW6, with Manchester United's long-standing interest and Manchester City's Catalan connection in the boardroom apparently more attractive than succeeding his great La Liga rival.

Richard Askam
BBC journalist Richard Askam has been told Pep Guardiola would prefer a move to Old Trafford
More on Mourinho
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What next for Mourinho?'The Unhappy One'
How he dominated social mediaHis final Chelsea interview

Diego Simeone

Diego Simeone
Simeone is a two-time La Liga coach of the year

The 45-year-old prowls the Vicente Calderon touchline in the style he used to run the Argentina midfield - a mix of passion, aggression and streetwise cunning.

Barcelona and Real Madrid had won the previous nine Spanish titles heading into the 2013-14 season, but Simeone and his Atletico Madrid team broke their well-funded duopoly to lift the trophy for the first time in 18 years.

Record at Atletico Madrid
GamesWinsDefeatsGoals scoredWin percentage
151952526163%

They came within less than three minutes of an extraordinary double in that campaign - Real Madrid's 4-1 extra-time triumph in the Champions League final down, in no small part, to Sergio Ramos' dramatic leveller in the 93rd minute.

Atletico are behind Barcelona at the top of the Spanish table on only goal difference, but Simeone may feel he has nothing left to prove and the time is right for a move.

However, if he is unavailable until next summer, Chelsea face a dilemma as to whether to back an interim manager with funds and chase a Champions League place or risk writing off a top-four finish for the season.

Diego Simeone
Times journalist Rory Smith believes Chelsea hope to have Simeone in place for the start of next season

Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti is unveiled as Chelsea boss in 2009
Ancelotti is taking a one-year sabbatical from football

The only manager other than Mourinho to win the Premier League with Chelsea.

The 56-year-old Italian led the Blues to the Double in his first season in charge, after being brought to Stamford Bridge for the start of the 2009-10 season.

When he was sacked at the end of the following campaign, the Blues had finished second, nine points behind champions Manchester United, and made the last eight of the Champions League.

Record at Real Madrid (left May 2015)
GamesWinsDefeatsGoals scoredWin percentage
76571122275%

If he salvages the same from this campaign, he would expect a healthy bonus rather than his P45.

Abramovich might also be tempted by Ancelotti's enduring popularity in the dressing rooms he has worked in.

He is still well liked at Real Madrid after clinching the club's landmark 10th European Cup in 2014 and would be a contrastingly calming influence after the turbulence of Mourinho's second spell.

Fjortoft tweet
Former Swindon and Middlesbrough striker Jan Aage Fjortoft - now a television pundit in Norway and Germany - believes Ancelotti would prefer a move to Bayern if Guardiola vacates his post

Guus Hiddink

Guus Hiddink
Hiddink's last job was as coach of the Netherlands

The abiding image of Hiddink's brief spell in charge of Chelsea is of the Dutchman with one hand on the shoulder of a beaming Abramovich, a cigar in the other, and the team's FA Cup celebrations as a backdrop.

It was the end of a short, but sweet, three-month stint as he rejuvenated a club that had looked lost under Luiz Felipe Scolari, securing a Champions League place and beating Everton 2-1 at Wembley in his final game in charge.

After getting the flak and sack for the Netherlands' dismal Euro 2016 qualification campaign, he may decide that, at 69, he can do without the pressures of another high-profile full-time role.

But if offered another caretaker role, he would be a good candidate to keep the Stamford Bridge seat warm.

Infostrada Sport

Juande Ramos

Juande Ramos
Ramos has managed Real Madrid, CSKA Moscow and Dnipro since leaving Tottenham

As successor Harry Redknapp regularly reminded Tottenham fans, Spurs were four points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League when they dispensed with Ramos in October 2008.

After such an undistinguished spell in charge of one of their great rivals, the Spaniard would be as unpopular an appointment among Chelsea fans as compatriot Rafael Benitez was in 2012.

However, the Stamford Bridge hierarchy may believe that, like Benitez, he can be a steadying hand on the tiller.

Record at Dnipro (left May 2014)
GamesWinsDefeatsGoals scoredWin percentage
106592019156%

Ramos led Real Madrid back into the 2008-09 Spanish title race with a run of 16 wins and one draw in 17 matches after taking over midway through the season.

The 61-year-old's combination of dressing-room discipline and attacking tactics was also successful at Sevilla and, out of work after leaving Ukrainian side Dnipro, there would be no compensation to pay another club.

AS
Spanish newspaper AS reported on Thursday - before news of Mourinho's sacking - that Juande Ramos' agent was in London to discuss a contract with Chelsea

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers at Chelsea in 2005
Rodgers was voted LMA Manager of the Year in 2013-14

The reaction of Chelsea fans should Juande Ramos be appointed is easy to predict. What they would make of Brendan Rodgers taking over is less clear.

The 42-year-old worked as a youth and reserve-team coach at Stamford Bridge for four years before leaving for Watford in 2008.

Record at Liverpool (left October 2015)
GamesWinsDefeatsGoals scoredWin percentage
122632923252%

His three years at Liverpool - a spell that only came to an end in October - make him irreparably damaged goods in the eyes of some of the Stamford Bridge faithful, but his stylish feel-good football and knowledge of the club and its rivals are definite plus points.

A newspaper report on Tuesday claimed Rodgers was stalling on other offers in the hope the Chelsea job became available.

Neil Fissler tweet
Sunday Express journalist Neil Fissler is sceptical about Rodgers' chances of a return to Chelsea

John Terry

John Terry
Terry has won 16 trophies as a Chelsea player

Captain, Leader, Legend.

Could it be time to lengthen the banner that adorns one end of Stamford Bridge?

The 35-year-old defender is reaching the end of his playing days and, despite his lack of managerial experience, his deeds on the pitch would command instant respect in the dressing room.

He passes intelligent and eloquent comment on the game in both news conferences and television studios - recently putting up a staunch defence of Mourinho before his exit from the club.

He has spent holidays on board Abramovich's yacht in the past but, despite their good relations, it would be an huge gamble for the Russian billionaire to trust a rookie with guiding his club to calmer waters.

David Ornstein tweet
Although he has been dropped at times this season, Terry appeared upset at manager Mourinho's sacking
More on Mourinho
Reaction as it happenedWhy did it go wrong?
What next for Mourinho?Chelsea 'will not go down'
His final Chelsea interviewMourinho gossip special
'The Unhappy One'Archive: Building a dynasty

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