Chelsea have shortlisted Roberto Di Matteo, Brendan Rodgers and Guus Hiddink as the three candidates to take over the reigns at Stamford Bridge until the summer should Jose Mourinho be sacked, according to the Sunday Express.
After another degrading league defeat over the weekend, this time at the hands of Stoke City, Mourinho’s grip on his position at the Blues has considerably weakened. His side sit a lowly 16th in the table whilst the Portuguese tactician has become the first manager under Roman Abramovich to lose three consecutive league games.
As a result of this diabolical start to the season, the press has been rife with rumours of who could replace Mourinho. Many see the ex-Real Madrid manager’s departure from the club a question of when not if.
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As a result, reports have suggested that extensive contingency planning has been held at Stamford Bridge to assess the club’s future without Mourinho.
Three men have been drawn up as temporary replacements, thus taking on a similar role to Rafael Benitez in 2013.
Di Matteo is the first. The ex-Chelsea manager is the only one to win the Champions League for the club, but was sacked by Abramovich six months later. Whether or not the Italian would be keen to return is yet to be seen, but he is available after resigning from his position at Schalke 04 in May.
Rodgers has also been linked with the job after his sacking from Liverpool last month. The Northern Irishman worked for the club under Mourinho as a youth team coach, so has prominent contacts at Chelsea.
Third on the list is yet another ex-manager, in the form of Hiddink. Although only in the position for 23 games, the Dutchman guided Chelsea to the FA Cup and just one defeat. Hiddink would be an extremely popular choice with the fans and could turn around the club's season, just as he did in 2009.
Carlo Ancelotti has also been considered, but the Italian was not keen on the idea of a short term appointment.
Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has proven another port of call and although not available currently, Chelsea may look to swoop in the summer.
This is all despite the fact Mourinho still has his job whilst the players and fans continue to show their support. Amidst the turmoil and defeats, the Portuguese is still treasured by the west London club.
After being tucked away in a local hotel on Saturday, watching helplessly as his side slumped to another defeat amidst his stadium ban, the clock is ticking for Mourinho. With Chelsea already preparing for life without the 'Special One', it seems inevitable that one more loss may just see Abramovich’s patience snap.
And who would blame him. Seven league losses and only three wins - it's simply not good enough.