Realistically, we're probably at least three months away from learning the identity of the next Chelsea manager. Probably four, if not five even, though hopefully we get it done early enough in the summer to provide a solid base from which to begin the rebuilding and retooling of the squad without having to rush things at the end.
Until that happens, all we have are rumors, rumors, and more rumors, with the four names on our shortlist rotating quite regularly through the roles of "being in pole position" and "being in talks with" and "considered favorite" and "no longer considered favorite". Though, according to ESPN, we'll need to come up with a fifth rotation as well, as Mauricio Pochettino's name is now officially on our shortlist as well. Why Pochettino would want to leave just when all his work is just starting to pay off and the going's getting good at Spurs is beyond me, but he's on the list, so keep him in mind.
Another candidate who most rumors agree would be a tough 'get' is Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone and that's despite recent rumors of Chelsea buying-out El Cholo's contract and tempting him with a massive wage packet twice his current salary. Granted those rumors were rather dubiously sourced; let's restore balance with more dubious ones that claim things to the contrary. For what it's worth, our friends at Into the Calderon don't think Simeone's going anywhere anytime soon.
There's a third Argentinian in the mix as well, and there are conflicting reports about him, too. No sooner had Jorge Sampaoli seemingly denied any and all Chelsea rumors, and dismissed every story about him as pure speculation, than the Telegraph claimed that he's "emerged as a serious candidate" for the job. The one major thing that Sampaoli's got going for him is that he's unemployed; but despite his recent successes with the Chilean national team, his reputation, certainly in Europe, is well below those of the other shortlisted candidates.
The last two spots on the shortlist go to the two Italians, current Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri -- a few more stories and I'll definitely learn the exact number of Ms, Ss, and Ls in his name -- and former Juventus manager Antonio Conte. After repeated denials, chatter about the former has died down in the last few days, but Conte's name is a hot item in today's rumor mill, especially in fair Italy, where we lay our scene. Here's Sky Italia's Fabrizio Romano, for example, whose story was also picked up (endorsed?) by Gianluca Di Marzio.
A Conte rumor was reported by US-based Grant Wahl as well a couple days ago, so perhaps there is truly something happening there. Conte's time at the head of the Italy national team is likely to end after Euro 2016, making him free and available to return to club management, which has been his stated intent for some time now.
So, the current status then:
- Pole position: Antonio Conte
- Considered favorite: Diego Simeone
- In talks with: Jorge Sampaoli
- The wildcard: Mauricio Pochettino
- No longer favorite: Massimiliano Allegri
And in roughly five minutes, that list will be outdated and wrong, no doubt. (Or somebody from the fringe list, such as Pellegrini or Hughes or Koeman or whoever, will make the jump up to the shortlist.)