It’s not easy being the president of the United States, the Pope, or the manager of Chelsea Football Club.
Current interim manager Rafael Benitez is the ninth manager the club has had in the last ten years. It’s all but certain that the next season will bring a new manager as well. Benitez has already said that he will be leaving at the end of the season and there’s a good possibility that he will be sacked even before that. The question mark hangs over Chelsea fans’ heads: who will be their next manager? Who would want that poisoned chalice?
The sacking of Roberto Di Matteo and replacing him with Benitez was a mind-boggling decision by owner Roman Abramovich. Di Matteo was a fan favourite and led the club to European glory. Nevertheless he was replaced by the hugely-unpopular Benitez and that hasn’t exactly worked out. Chelsea’s form since appointing the Spaniard has been hit and miss. However, the squad is strong and the club should fight for the Premier League title, not just for the Champions League place.
Chelsea’s record with recent managers suggests that winning isn’t enough on its own. Even before Di Matteo, Avram Grant was sacked, even though he was just a John Terry penalty kick away from European glory, having also guided Chelsea to the League Cup final and to second in the league. The club’s most successful manager, Jose Mourinho was sacked after reportedly falling out with Abramovich.
Interestingly, almost every manager Chelsea have sacked has had considerable success in their next club. Grant led unfancied Portsmouth to the FA Cup final, while Carlo Ancelotti and Andre Villas-Boas are doing really well at Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham respectively. Then there's Mourinho, who has since won another Champions League and numerous domestic titles.
Indeed, almost the only possible and realistic target would be Mourinho. Much has been said about him falling out with his player or board members at Real Madrid. But his departure from Madrid is far from certain and if he doesn’t leave Madrid after this season, Chelsea have to find a good alternative.
The managerial position at Chelsea is so difficult to succeed at, that most good young managers have wisely distanced themselves from the job. It’s quite possible that the next manager of Chelsea isn’t the big name that the fans are expecting. Pep Guardiola snubbed Chelsea and chose Bayern Munich instead. Recently, good up-and-coming managers like Gus Poyet have been linked to the job, but they’re unproven at Premier League level.
All those decisions to sack good managers have backfired spectacularly. The fans and maybe even Abramovich himself may come to regret sacking of Di Matteo as, after this season, Chelsea could end up with a manager not nearly half as good as the Italian.
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