By appointing Roberto Di Matteo on a temporary basis, Chelsea have invited weeks of incessant speculation with regards to the identity of the eventual permanent successor to Andre Villas-Boas. Candidates are likely to appeal more or less depending on their achievements between now and the end of the season.
Jose Mourinho remains the outstanding candidate, for every job in world football, occupied and unoccupied. His name is still chanted at Stamford Bridge and the San Siro, as both sides continue to overcome the void left by his departure. Although his relationship with Roman Abramovich is believed to have improved since his exit and much has been read in to a recent house-hunting expedition to London, a return remains unlikely. He appears to have a complicated relationship with Real Madrid staff and supporters, but they remain top of the table and it would surprise no one if he were to agree a new, improved deal with the club.
Speculation often engulfs Pep Guardiola at this time of year due to his penchant for signing one-year deals at Barcelona, but it will take a very special offer to tempt him away from the Bernabeu. By accepting the Chelsea job, he would be signing up for a very different kind of one-year deal, he is likely to agree an extension and await a more enticing proposition.
The qualities that make Harry Redknapp the outstanding candidate for the England job, a willingness to indulge big egos and a bulletproof relationship with the national press, are also applicable to the Chelsea role. Although, when fielding a press conference question on the subject, Redknapp revealed: “It would be difficult. I wouldn’t be able to come back to north London. So no, I will pass on that one.” Rafa Benitez would appear to be out of the running due to fan vitriol regarding his potential appointment and David Moyes is likely to be overlooked once again.
Fabio Capello is available, his relative failure with England is unlikely to have diminished his credentials and his loyalty to John Terry will only endear him to the Chelsea faithful. Laurent Blanc has also done a sterling job with the French national side and his current contract expires after the European Championships.
Chelsea moved to dismiss claims in a Swiss newspaper that they have already held talks with Germany coach Joachim Low, who also rebuffed claims by curtly explaining: “I have a contract as national team coach until 2014.” Having achieved his brief of overhauling a stale, workmanlike German team with a new youth-orientated, attack-minded approach, as Jurgen Klinsmann’s assistant, he has exceeded all expectations since taking charge. With 10 wins in 10 qualifiers, Germany head to the European Championships as one of the favourites, if he can finally navigate Spain, Low may well be elevated from dark horse status to become the outstanding candidate for the task of regenerating Chelsea.
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