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Where does Chelsea go from here? Coaching edition.

The 2007-08 season was quite an eventful one for Chelsea Football Club. Firings, transfers, on-field tomfoolery, misery -- this year had it all. As the curtain closes vehemently on the season -- and Avram's tenure in London -- it's time to look toward 08-09. My cunning 32-part expose on Chelsea's future begins with a look at the managerial position. Let's peruse the candidates, shall we?

Frank Rijkaard
Former Club: FC Barcelona
Current Odds (Betfair): 7/2
Likelihood (1-10 scale): 8
Rijkaard's been linked with Chelsea for a decade. Now he might actually arrive. Following his final hoorah with Barca -- one of those horror seasons in which you need a steady diet of yayo and animal crackers to survive -- he's unemployed and on the prowl. Once upon a time, his Barca teams played the most brilliant of footie, on their way to a Champions League triumph. Since, the Catalan club has been run rampant with turmoil and ego, exposing Frank as a shallow figure unable to restore order. Do we want this wild man, and his zany hair, at Chelsea? One thing's for sure, he's a spitter so he should have JT's backing -- boo, poor joke. The evidence is inconclusive.

Guus Hiddink
Current Club: Russian national team
Current Odds: 13/5
Likelihood: 8
There are six qualities the new Chelsea coach must have according to The Guardian, and Hiddink supposedly has them all. They say Hiddink is the primary candidate at this juncture -- who can argue? He's excelled at nearly every level, and has yet to sign an official contract with the Russian national team after this year's European competition. He's known for attractive football, and demands respect as a figurehead. His relationship with Blues chief scout Frank Arnesen is frosty, so that could be a bonus if Hiddink was to take over. A superb choice for the position. Death to Arnesen!

Roberto Mancini
Current Club: Inter Milan
Current Odds: 8/1
Likelihood: 5
This man has three consecutives Serie A titles to his name. All three are ripe with controversy. Mancini has wasted so much talent at Inter that you can't help but ask how the hell he's still in charge. It looked as if he wasn't, for a night, when he called time on his tenure after Inter, once again, prematurely crashed out of the Champions League this season. He decided to stay on, though his team seemed to resign instead -- Inter took only 29 out of a possible 54 points following the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool on Feb. 19. They nearly coughed up the Italian crown, too, needing a win on the final day to hold off Roma. Mancini is still in charge at Inter, though it is widely understood that he will make way for Jose Mourinho as early as Monday (just ask Michael Essien, he knows). Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that Mancini, in fact, approached Chelsea about the position only to be promptly shot down. Thank you, now I don't have to shoot any of the Chelsea suits.

Michael Laudrup
Former Club: Getafe
Current Odds: 24/1
Likelihood: 3
An outside contender, though one I believe must be considered. Laudrup called time on his tenure at Getafe after one season. He's recently been linked with the Manchester City job, but then so has Avram Grant. He is also a personal friend of Arnesen. Unlikely pick, but one hell of a player.

Sven-Goran Eriksson
Former Club: Manchester City
Current Odds: 6/1
Likelihood: 7
Sven man has gotten a raw deal at Manchester City. He may still be in charge, but it certainly won't be long until he's a free agent. Chelsea unsuccessfully tried twice to pry "it" away from the England national team. Is the third time the charm? I hope not. He's a polarizing figure to me, known more for his extracurriculars than his coaching aptitude. I'm not saying he's a bad choice, but I'd prefer someone else.

Mark Hughes
Current Club: Blackburn
Current Odds: 13/1
Likelihood: 6
Lately, Hughes's stock has risen more than his namesake Howard's during did the mid-20th century. A former Blue himself, Hughes has the guile and strong personality to be successful in London. How he interacts with The Wealthy One could be the breaking point. Still, it's hard to argue with his resume, one that currently includes producing a consistently good Blackburn side. He has the tactical acumen to excel, while showing a particularly keen eye in the transfer market. His bargain buys, which include Roque Santa Cruz and Christopher Samba, would most certainly make Roman sit up and take notice. A quality choice, but would he rather wait for that Old Trafford job?

Marcelo Lippi
Former club: Italian national team
Current Odds: 35/1
Likelihood: 4
Lippi has been on sabbatical since he led the Azzurri to the World Cup in 2006. But supposedly he's interested in the Chelsea job, and will put his name forward this week. If true, Lippi would be a great candidate as he's one of the most successful coaches of the modern era. His resume includes a CL title as well as three runners-up medals. One thing's for sure, he would no doubt command the respect of everyone at the club including Abramovich.

Luiz Felipe Scolari
Current club: Portugese national team
Current Odds: 22/1
Likelihood: 6
Scolari's contract with Portugal concludes after Euro 08. He is said to be quite keen on the post at Chelsea and would "relish working with Abramovich." Really? Attractive football wouldn't be a problem for Scolari, but how much does returning to Brazil to coach the national team still wear on his mind?

Jose Mourinho
Fomer Club: Chelsea FC
Current Odds: 23/1
Likelihood: 1
So he's all buddy-buddy with Roman now? So what, he's not returning to the Bridge. In fact, he ruled himself out of the position today. Give him five years, though, he'll be back.

... Conclusions? Put your payola on Sven. I know, it sucks.

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