The names being bandied about for the next Chelsea manager are familiar to most: Allegri, Tuchel, Jardim, Blanc, Sarri, Spaletti, etc. Seemingly, the same names get thrown into the mix every time there is an opening at Stamford Bridge. Each of them fit the club to varying degrees but I’m here to propose a rather unfancied name for the next manager of Chelsea: a professorial Colombian by the name of Juan Carlos Osorio.
Currently, Osorio is plying his trade as the national team manager of Mexico. While that job description, along with moderate success in his previous stops in MLS and Colombia's Primera, might not immediately warrant anything more than a cursory glance, a deeper look at his tactical and man management philosophies reveals that he might be the perfect fit for the club if, as expected, we'll be moving on from Antonio Conte this summer.
Tactically, Osorio tends to set up in a 4-3-3 formation for Mexico. He’s also played a 3-4-3 diamond at times and will change the system to suit the particular strengths and weaknesses of each opponent. He rotates virtually every match, making anywhere from two to eight changes based on the importance of the match and the particular tactics he plans to employ in that match. He is also adept at anticipating any changes the opposition might make and usually adapts very quickly.
Philosophically, his tactics center around doubt, movement, and synchronization. Grant Wahl from SI has written multiple times about Osorio, and he explains those concepts (and much more) in various contexts, but I’ll provide a quick summary. Everything from the team selection to the way individual players move on the pitch is built around synchronized movement creating individual advantages for his best players and doubt in the opposition. He’s known to be an avid basketball fan and uses the same idea of running rehearsed patterns of play to get his best talent the ball in the statistically-backed best areas to score. It’s a type of positional play that the players would be familiar with after working under Conte, but isn’t quite as extreme as Guardiola’s or Tuchel’s adaptations of it. All of this movement and synchronization works together to create doubt in opposing defenders about who they should cover and where they should be on the pitch.
In terms of man management, Osorio is seemingly terrific. Regularly checking in on his charges to assess their state of mind, a large part of Osorio’s methodology is to make his players as comfortable as possible on and off the pitch. He has his own mental conditioning coach on staff to help make sure his players are in the right state of mind. When rotating, he explains his choices to the players which helps create team unity and dispel the notion that he’s picking favorites or that performance has no impact on his team selection. This is a direct contrast to Antonio Conte, who has frequently been known to make changes to punish individual players and has been quoted on numerous occasions as saying he has no real concern about an individual player’s happiness. Additionally, Osorio has managed to deal with a notoriously difficult Mexican Football Federation and the country's football-mad media with class and grace; this would serve him well dealing with the hierarchy at Chelsea, and the particularly frustrating English media.
Ultimately, Osorio probably won’t get a look-in for the job. If Conte leaves, it’ll almost assuredly go to a bigger, "more proven" manager. However, if Chelsea are truly looking for a break from their Mourinho/Conte past, and towards building a new identity for the club, there’s not a better choice out there than the Colombian mastermind, both on and off the pitch.