The quite appalling job Rafa Benitez has done since he took over from Roberto Di Matteo would, more than any of Roman's managers before him, merit a rightful sacking. The club however has been reluctant to pull the trigger. And who can blame them? Facing the unusual prospect of a third manager in one season, the club is in a bit of a pickle. As the fans here at WAGNH continue to call for Rafa to (rightfully) be sacked, I wondered if the prospect of who might replace him might make them think again. Here is a list of possible short-term replacements.
1) Steve Holland
The man who you always see in the background, but never quite hear from. Holland has been the assistant first-team coach to the last three managers at Chelsea. A former pro, the 42-year-old has been at Chelsea since 2009 where he took the role of Reserves Manager. In 2011, he guided them to the Reserves title before being promoted from his role when Villas-Boas took over.
Holland definitely has the trust and knowledge of the first team players having consistently worked with them for the last year and a half. For me he has every bit a chance of being successful in a similar way to RDM when he took over. The fact that he hasn't been sacked despite the changes in manager suggests he is doing something right that pleases the board. A big factor would be that he would be willing to work temporarily until the end of the season before moving back to a different role or becoming a manager of a different team.
Isn't it obvious? Holland has had even less success as a manager than RDM. His resume features nothing more than a brief stint at lowly Crewe Alexandra.
Likelihood of getting the job if Rafa is sacked: 7/10
Cost free and quick and easy to implement.
Rating as a coach: 4/10
2) Laurent Blanc
A name familiar to fans of the Premier League, Blanc had a successful career as a player, before turning to management. His short career as a manager can only impress you. In 3 years at Bordeaux he led the French outfit to 4 trophies, including a league title in 2009. The 47-year-old took over the post of manager of the national team from Raymond Domenech in 2010 after France endured a toxic World Cup campaign. Under Blanc, France went on a 23 game unbeaten run, which they carried into Euro 2012. However yet again rumours of infighting plagued the French's campaign, and they were knocked out by eventual winners Spain 2-0. Blanc stood down deciding he did not want his contract to be renewed.
Blanc is quite clearly a very talented coach. His record and strong demeanour make him a very interesting proposition. A little extra bit for Roman is that he is a known name in the football world. He remains a free agent and could very much do a job of guiding Chelsea into the top 4 by the end of the season. If all was to go well, I see no reason why he couldn't keep the job full time.
Would Blanc be willing to take the job on an interim-basis at this point in the season? He will surely have his fair share of offers, but could Chelsea lure him? Blanc also clamped down hard on his players when he took over France, what if such a tactic was to heavily backfire at Chelsea? Would Blanc be willing to hand over much of the control to the board? All questions that need to be answered.
Likelihood of getting the job if Rafa is sacked: 4/10
Too big a job for too little time
Rating as a coach: 8/10
3) Andriy Shevchenko
Politician, legend and flop rolled into one, Andriy Shevchenko is one of the greatest strikers to play the game. Of course his £30 million transfer to Chelsea can be seen as nothing more than a massive disaster, but that shouldn't take away the magnificent career of our Sheva. Seen regularly at the Bridge and Cobham in recent times there were murmurs that Sheva was set to take a coaching role at the club. That hasn't materialised but with his political career not taking off, Sheva is undoubtedly pursuing a career that involves football. His close relationship with Roman means that this is a man who can't be ruled out.
As a former player at Chelsea, Sheva knows some of the players and generally knows what is expected to play for Chelsea Football Club. He could step into the post immediately, and happily step down at the end of the season with a much advanced reputation.
With virtually no experience in management, this would be a huge gamble. And with Sheva's close relationship with the owner, would Roman be willing to sack his man if things were to turn out a disaster?
Likelihood of getting the job if Rafa is sacked: 6/10
Close personal relationship with the owner
Rating as a coach: 2/10
4) Frank Rijkaard
Possibly not very popular with the Chelsea faithful, (though considered a legend when compared with Rafa) Rijkaard's coaching career hasn't been able to match his playing career. After managing Holland at Euro 2000, Rijkaard spent 5 years managing Barcelona, winning 5 trophies, including the Champions League. His reign featured that infamous encounter with Jose Mourinho when Chelsea travelled to the Nou Camp. Many considered Pep Guardiola's unstoppable Barcelona team to essentially be Rijkaard's team with a couple of Guardiola additions. Since the end of his Barcelona career, Rijkaard hasn't come close to hitting those heights, although he hasn't had a chance at a big club. After being sacked by Galatasary in 2010, Rijkaard returned to international management with Saudi Arabia in 2011. Last month he was sacked.
Rijkaard has alot of coaching experience and pedigree, being able to call himself a Champions League winning manager. He definitely fits the big name, foreign bracket that Roman seems to love, and has expressed interest in becoming Chelsea manager before. Once again, he is available to come in and do a job right now, and he has a shattered reputation to repair.
I seriously doubt whether Rijkaard is as good a coach as his Barcelona days suggested. His last 2 jobs can only be considered failures. Would he be much of an upgrade on Rafa?
Likelihood of getting job if Rafa is sacked: 5/10
Ticks Roman's boxes, but only recently left his last job
Rating as a coach: 6/10
5) Avram Grant
Incomprehensibly, this man continues to be on the radar all the time. Familiar to the role of interim, Grant took charge of the club after the shock sack of Jose Mourinho and did very well in leading Jose's men to second place in everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Following Moscow, Grant left the club to enjoy highly unsuccessful spells at Portsmouth and West Ham before going to Serbia and leading Partizan Belgrade to their fifth successive title. He then resigned. Grant's close relationship with Roman and coaching experience means he will always be a name that just won't go away. For me this is the man likely to be appointed should Rafa's sacking finally happen.
Errr... he has managed Chelsea before. That's it really. Oh and he's available, no surprises there!
Where do I begin? He clearly isn't the greatest coach. It says how good that Chelsea team was that Grant managed to win 66% of his games. Both Portsmouth and West Ham were relegated under his reign. Perhaps this is a man best kept in the background on a board.
Likelihood of getting job if Rafa is sacked: 8/10
Without a doubt the most likely man to be appointed given the circumstances
Rating as a coach: 5/10