By Mac Byrne
Failure to deliver the holy grail that is the Champions League trophy, or indeed any of its perceived poorer relations, means it’s arrivederci to Blues’ seventh manager in eight years.
Whilst the vacating of one of Europe’s most prestigious – even if unstable – hot seats is always met by the clatter of hats landing in the ring, with everyone from past players to Europe’s elite having their say, in owner Roman Abramovich’s case it is often the old favourites he turns to in his 90 minutes of need.
Whilst Abramovich would appear to have at least some idea of his ‘dream ticket’, timing and disappointment mean he has never quite made it to the promised land. Guus Hiddink’s late introduction saved Chelsea from a trophyless 2009 and it would appear that it is the Dutchman who sits on Roman’s top table. Hiddink himself has said that he continues to act in an advisory capacity to the club so the owner clearly sees the future as the bright orange variety. The mention of Dutch legends Marco Van Basten and Frank Rijkaard on everyone’s tulips only adds credence to this theory.
Then there’s talk of bringing back Avram Grant in some capacity. Vilified for yet another spectacularly poor season as a Premier League Manager, the man who has made the foot of the table his own would appear to hold some place in the heart of the heartless Russian.
And who – least of all himself – could forget the unforgettable ‘Special One’? Having apparently made up with his former boss, Jose Mourinho remains very much on the West London radar. And with his tantrums this time preceding, rather than following success and Real Madrid’s galacticos looking light years adrift of Barcelona’s European dominance, it can’t be long before the self proclaimed numero uno dos one!
If nothing else, the owner’s commitment to the club would be well and truly proven by such an appointment; reinstating his previous charge would be tantamount to admitting an original error in letting him go – an act rarely afforded to billionaires!
But what about the other runners and riders…? Andre Villas Boas has got Latino pulses racing – and comparisons with his countryman raining – with a clean sweep at Porto this season. Whilst the idea of a promising young manager sounds ideal, few get to celebrate more than a birthday or two at the Bridge so in this case age really is just a number. In which case why not look at the more ‘experienced’ end of the market?; what Harry Redknapp has achieved at Spurs has been more than miraculous.
Then there’s the usual roster of credible Premier League managers, both in and out of work, who have hit the financial ceiling at their own clubs. But you don’t accumulate £8bn without thinking big and I think that type of manager, whilst including such excellent exponents such as Moyes, O‘Neill and Hughes, will not be deemed big enough.
So, who is indeed next? My money would be on the Dutch connection. They play the football Abramovich wants to see and Guus’ brief dalliance with Europe’s premier league has left him wanting more. Furthermore his friendship with the boss will buy him the time all Chelsea fans crave. Placing a duo of Dutch legends – however inexperienced – under the Dutch master paints a pretty picture, perhaps one the owner can hang next to the Champions League Trophy!