Once more Chelsea find themselves in the market for a new head coach, Frank Lampard having gone the way of so many big names before him and lost the trust of Roman Abramovich.
It may have proven to be something of a poisoned chalice but that will not stop some of Europe’s top players from expressing an interest in the Stamford Bridge hot seat, one that comes with generous reimbursement and the chance to develop a young core of top talent from Germany and England.
As Chelsea mull their options we assess some of the likely contenders for the job below:
The former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain boss is considered most likely to succeed Lampard. Tuchel is a head coach with an extensive track record in European competition who is available and ready to take the reigns immediately. He is also keen to manage in the Premier League having enjoyed success in Germany and France and would be a good fit for a squad that has taken on a distinctly Germanic flavor in recent years.
Of course there is one key issue that has dogged Tuchel throughout his tenure at top clubs, his somewhat combustible relations with those above him. On the eve of his sacking at PSG he had questioned whether he was a manager or a politician, publicly bemoaning a job where “in a club like this, it is not always just football.”
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He would find that much the same is true at Chelsea, where the likes of Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho have come unstuck in the past by trying to play power games or go over the head of director Marina Granovskaia to appeal directly to Abramovich. He ultimately calls the shots and Tuchel would have to deal with an owner whose interest in matters at Stamford Bridge seems to have increased of late. Whether he could effectively navigate the tough waters around this club remains to be seen.
All-conquering former Juventus managers have enjoyed plenty of success in the past even if Conte and Carlo Ancelotti (whose greatest successes did not come with the Old Lady of Italian football) only lasted two years in the Stamford Bridge hot seat. Since parting ways with Juventus in 2019 Allegri has remained out of work, a specter hovering over the shoulder of any top European manager struggling to revive his side’s fortunes.
Allegri, who is also said to be of interest to Roma, previously caught Arsenal’s attention and was a serious contender to succeed Arsene Wenger only for doubts over his English to prompt the Gunners to look elsewhere. He has since sought to address the linguistic issues that could keep him out of the running for top Premier League jobs though he insists the lessons he has been taking are for his “personal culture” rather than to get a new job.
Much like Conte, Allegri built his reputation at Juventus on pragmatism rather than idealism and that brought success in Europe that eluded his predecessor with two Champions League finals. However Abramovich’s desire for football that is easy on the eye is well known. La Vecchia Signora did not always play safety first, but in Europe they were less likely to impose their will on opponents in the way the owner would want Chelsea to.
For the man whose coaching career began in the Chelsea academy in 2004 this would represent quite the homecoming. Rodgers invariably finds himself linked with top vacancies when the jobs become available but so far no club has attempted to pry him away from Leicester City, whom he has moved firmly back into the upper echelon of English football since his appointment in February 2019.
He has few unanswered questions left on his CV, having propelled Liverpool on an unlikely title charge, swept the board in emphatic fashion with Celtic and enjoyed such success with Leicester. Indeed he is so close to making the Foxes a Champions League club once more that perhaps the last remaining question is whether he might be tempted to finish what he has started in the East Midlands rather than switch to a major European power.
If Chelsea want a head coach to get the best out of their star striker Timo Werner then there is surely no better candidate than his former RB Leipzig boss Nagelsmann (well, Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhuttl might have a case from his time with the Bundesliga club). The man nicknamed ‘Baby Mourinho’ certainly has the charisma required for a top club and it has seemed for some time a question of which European giant will be the first to plump for the 33-year-old.
Nagelsmann’s Leipzig are tactically versatile and adventurous on the pitch and have emerged as a serious European force without any real star names to call their own, although the likes of Werner, Dayot Upamecano and Dani Olmo have become so under his tutelage. Equally that inexperience dealing with the biggest names (and often the biggest egos) may be a challenge he faces when he does move on.
There is also the small matter of his publicly stated desire to manage Bayern Munich and whether even the prospect of a vacancy at the Allianz Arena might tempt him to consider alternative options to Chelsea.
There are few in football quite as close to Abramovich as Shevchenko, whom the Chelsea owner signed in the summer of 2006 even though his then manager Mourinho was not quite convinced by the former Dimano Kiev and AC Milan striker. Though Stamford Bridge never saw the best of the Ukrainian as a footballer there are reasons to believe he could be an interesting option for the dugout.
Since 2016 he has brought significant improvements out of the Ukraine national team, under whose watch promotion to Nations League A (even in relegation last year they earned impressive wins over Switzerland and Spain) was achieved as well as qualification for Euro 2020 ahead of Portugal. The question is how much that really counts for when compared to the challenges of Premier League football. The club game is simply on a level that Shevchenko has only really experienced as a player.
Similarly, with the state of Euro 2020 still in flux, would Shevchenko want to leave his country in the lurch just before the tournament begins. However, even if he does not end up managing Chelsea now, it would be a bold man who bet against Abramovich eventually considering him for the job.