Top 5 candidates to replace Antonio Conte as Chelsea manager

It would be very surprising if Antonio Conte remained at the helm at Stamford Bridge. To be very honest, I’m very surprised he’s still here. Apparently, it’s going to cost the club¬†¬£9 million in severance fees to sack him. Either way, the Italian’s lack of passion on the touchline and disinterested interviews mean that the writing is very clearly on the wall.

We’re back at square one, in a way. The core of the club, put together by Jose Mourinho back in 2004, is now completely gone. We need to rebuild not only our squad, but also our identity and and personality as a football club. The Chelsea of the last decade would never have capitulated like the current squad has in games this season, most recently against Spurs at the weekend. The Lilywhites beat us at the Bridge for the first time in 28 years, and more or less guaranteed that we will not be playing Champions League football next season. We are currently gutless, soulless and devoid of any way forward. I wrote last month about how the upcoming transfer window will be the most important in the Abramovich era. We need someone long-term, someone who can be trusted with the patience and the money to build a group of players for the future.

Here are five of the most suitable candidates for the job, in no particular order:

1) Carlo Ancelotti

Chelsea manager

A man who knows the club inside out, Ancelotti is arguably the most unfairly-sacked manager since Abramovich took over. He led us to the title in spectacular fashion on 2010. That season is fondly remembered by fans even now as the most enjoyable in recent times, as we scored 103 goals and put at least 7 past our opponents on four separate occasions en route to lifting the crown. The following season started disastrously, and we found ourselves in 5th place by Christmas, along with early exits in the cups. A late surge saw us come within a win over Manchester United of the title, but things just didn’t work out. He was shown the door after the last day of the season, a decision that left a lot of the supporters fuming. Along with playing good football, he also promoted youth, giving the likes of Gael Kakuta, Josh McEachran and a young Nemanja Matic their breaks in the first team.

Since leaving West London, Ancelotti has won league titles in France and Germany, along with the Champions League with Real Madrid. It remains to be seen if he will agree to a return. Even though the current relationship between him and Abramovitch is unknown, Ancelotti was seen at Stamford Bridge earlier this season during the Champions League tie with Roma. The fans would certainly welcome this appointment and at the age of 58, the Italian is certainly an option we can look at for the long-term as well. The Italian national team though, could have a say in the issue by trying to lure him into international football.

2) Thomas Tuchel

Chelsea manager

The situation with Tuchel’s destination next season has been a huge matter of discussion in the papers recently. We’ve heard of him going to both Bayern Munich and Arsenal, but a move to Chelsea does remain an option. The German has been out of a job since leaving Borussia Dortmund last season, after guiding them to 2nd and 3rd placed finishes in his two years in charge. He won the DFB Pokal in 2017, and was able to maintain the strength and balance in the squad despite losing some big-name players like Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mats Hummels. Under him, Dortmund also played some very good football, while making some smart, low-budget signings to keep the ship sailing. It’s true that Tuchel neither has the experience nor any notable pieces of silverware to his name, but he’s only 44. A club with the resources of Chelsea could be the perfect platform for him to build his legacy for years to come.

3) Leonardo Jardim

Chelsea manager

The current Monaco manager stunned everybody last season, guiding his side to the Ligue 1 title to break Paris Saint-Germain’s dominance in France. His team was full of prodigal young talents, and they played some scintillating football. Unfortunately, the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy all left the club in the summer in search of more money. Despite this, Monaco are still second in the French league this season. He joined the club in 2014, and the team haven’t finished lower since 3rd since then. They also made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season.

Jardim has no experience of managing in the Premier League but at only 43, he has proven himself ready for a big challenge. He could be the right man to both make the best of the current squad, as well as bring our talented youngsters up into the first team. The Portuguese, just like Jose Mourinho, never established himself as a player and got into coaching from a very young age.

4) Maurizio Sarri

Chelsea manager

The Napoli manager has shot into prominence in the last couple of seasons, after guiding his side to a second-placed finish in Serie A last year. Napoli are set to replicate that finish this time around as well, currently lying 4 points behind leaders Juventus. His team has played good attacking football, and his poise after Gonzalo Higuain’s sale to Juve was exemplary. He used the money to plug gaps in midfield and defence, and gave Dries Mertens a more forward role which saw the Belgian score 28 goals in all competitions last season. Isn’t Eden Hazard crying out for something like that?

Sarri’s lack of experience and past success makes this move unlikely, however. He seems a lot like Conte in the way he sets up on the pitch, and could face similar issues with the board if he isn’t given the exact players that he asks for. The demand for continued success at Chelsea is a dynamic in which every manager in the world will feel immense pressure, and it therefore becomes difficult therefore to judge them based on doing well in a job where much wasn’t expected of them.

5) Jody Morris

Chelsea manager

After bursting into the first team aged 17 back in 1996 and making 174 appearances for the club in all competitions, Morris has remained a Chelsea man through and through. He is currently in charge of our U-18’s, who last year won their fourth successive FA Youth Cup title. They are on course to making it five, having reached their (incredible!) ninth successive semi-final. The team also won the league last year, and back-to-back UEFA Youth leagues in 2015 and 2016.

The appointment of Morris will bring in a real family atmosphere to the club, if he is given time to build for the future. He knows the youngsters inside-out, and will know who is ready for that step up. Easily the most low-key name on the list, the 39 year-old will no doubt be a gamble. But if this goes right, then we could see a lot of organic growth, and also maybe pave the way for John Terry and Frank Lampard to get involved in the near future. The legendary duo have made no secrets of their intentions to get into management sooner or later, and are very close friends with Morris.

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