No sooner had Jose Mourinho’s car left Chelsea’s training HQ for the final time than a laundry list of potential successors to replace him is being debated.
That’s the harsh reality of the Premier League.
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Mourinho, 52, was fired by Chelsea on Thursday as the pair mutually parted ways with the Blues languishing just one point above the relegation zone as the defending PL champs have lost nine of their opening 16 games. A source confirmed to ProSoccerTalk that Chelsea hope to have a caretaker manager in place on Friday ahead of their game against Sunderland on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
According to numerous reports, most notably the Daily Telegraph, former Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink is set to return for a second spell at Stamford Bridge.
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Hiddink, 69, could be named as Chelsea’s interim boss until the end of the season as early as Friday.
If so, it would be the same role he took in 2009 when he replaced Luis Felipe Scolari and led the Blues to an FA Cup trophy and a third-place finish. This time around it will be very different with a relegation battle a very real possibility for whoever arrives, but Hiddink did remarkably well in his first spell at Stamford Bridge and galvanized a talented squad in a similar situation.
With Hiddink tabbed to take charge until the end of the season, then what?
Well, there has already been plenty of speculation about who will take over long-term and with Pep Guardiola said to be leaving Bayern Munich when his contract expires in the summer, surely Chelsea, along with both Manchester City and Manchester United, will be ready to throw an open check book at the Spanish coach?
A report from the Daily Mail claims that Chelsea have already spoken to Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone about succeeding Mourinho, with the brash Argentine coach linked with the Chelsea job on numerous occasions in the past after working wonders with Atleti.
The report states that Simeone is unsure if heading to west London is the right move for him, with Chelsea’s squad needing plenty of work to get back among Europe’s elite clubs after a shocking start to the current campaign. It is also claimed that Chelsea have been in talks with him over the past week, with it costing over $23 million to break his contract in the Spanish capital.
Simeone, 45, is talented, bold and passionate on the sidelines and won’t suffer fools gladly. He’s also worked with, and brought the best out of, the likes of Thiabut Courtois and Diego Costa in the past. He seems to tick all the right boxes, but will he want to leave his project at Atletico after several seasons of success?
Maybe Simeone’s the man, long-term, to return Chelsea back to the summit of the Premier League and Europe. But first things first, Hiddink must steady the ship.