If Chelsea sack Antonio Conte during the season, you would expect Guus Hiddink to take over in his cover supervisor role till a proper manager is brought in, in the Summer. Hiddink has a great record at Chelsea and calling on him mid-season once again would definitely make sense if Conte continues to struggle. His record proves that he’d probably have a better end to the season that Conte as his job would be a simple one: to galvanise a group of top quality players and stay around for the “bounce” period then bounce off come the end of the season.
Now, if Conte manages to see out the season, he is almost certainly going to leave in the Summer.
So who will be in charge next season?
The Atletico Madrid man would be a no-brainer from Chelsea’s point of view. Having taken Atletico to the La Liga title in 13/14 breaking a five year stretch of Barcelona Real Madrid one-twos finishes and breaking the club’s own points record tally. All this without spending a considerable amount of money, especially considering the money spent by Barcelona and in particular at that time, Real.
Simeone has also guided Atletico to two Champions League finals, twice coming up short against Real Madrid. The first of these occasions was the year of the title triumph; success in two competitions is rare for Premier League teams and someone with experience of balancing the two with success would be useful although the Premier League is, of course, a different kettle of fish altogether. Simeone’s success has gone somewhat under the radar but for me the question would be, does he want Chelsea?
Although contracts mean little in football these days, Simeone seems like a man who enjoys stability and a contract extension at the start of this season at a club he’s been at for six years suggests he wants to stay, especially having resigned Diego Costa.
A former Chelsea manager, Ancelotti remains one of the biggest names in football. In his last spell in the Premier League, his Chelsea side got a current record of 103 goals in a single season, a record that will probably not survive this season.
In his last job, he seemed somewhat uninspired and uninterested. And at 58, having won three Champions Leagues, I’m not sure he’s really got the hunger for it anymore and would just be tempted to simply go with the flow at Chelsea, where at his last three clubs that was fine but at Chelsea, that would be problematic.
The former Barcelona manager seems to be a current favourite, having won two league titles and a Champions League in three seasons at Barcelona. Having left of his own accord from both Roma and Barcelona, they would be a perfect fit with neither keen on a long-term arrangement. During his time at Barca, there were regular questions asked regarding his tactics and I’m not entirely convinced by him. The Barca job is not a difficult one and he was more of a supervisor than a manager, someone who looked after the players. Despite his apparent success in terms of trophies, he did not really do all that of a great job and is somewhat unproven.
In his last season, his Barca side was completely outplayed over two legs by an albeit very good Juventus side but it was in that Champions League campaign where he showed his tactical weaknesses. The miracle comeback against PSG had little to do with him and to get him at Stamford Bridge would be a risk and a mistake.
Is there another Premier League job in Marco Silva and especially at such a big club? This would be a surprise and having taken the Watford job, he’s proven his decision making is lacking and having been unable to change Watford’s farcical managerial strategy, this is surely too big a risk for Chelsea and quite an unnecessary one. He has shown potential and so his name will be bandied about but he needs to work his way up to a job as big as Chelsea. It would be a massive step backwards for Chelsea as he’d be unable to attract the kind of quality players Chelsea need.
For me, Diego Simeone has to be no.1 choice to replace Conte but whoever gets the job, the quite strange transfer policy of late must be put to bed and the manager must be given more control over transfers. The reality is that whoever comes in will initially find themselves fighting for a top-four place and the task of catching the Manchester clubs in the first couple of seasons at least will be very difficult.