Former Valencia, Liverpool and Inter Milan boss Rafael Benitez is bwin’s odds-on favourite to replace Roberto Di Matteo at Chelsea following the Italian’s exit through the revolving door at Stamford Bridge.
Di Matteo was dismissed in the wake of Chelsea’s 3-0 loss to Juventus last night which left the Blues as 41/20 outsiders to qualify for the Champions League last 16 and facing the very real prospect of becoming the first defending champions to fail to make it past the Champions League group stage.
As someone who has proven his ability to create a team capable of winning trophies while producing attractive football, Pep Guardiola is sure to feature high on the list of potential replacements for Di Matteo.
But while Guardiola has been out of work since walking away from Barcelona earlier this year, his determination to take a 12-month sabbatical from the game could see him turn down Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s advances – at least until he returns from his self-imposed exile next summer.
This raises the real prospect that Abramovich could seek an interim solution before renewing his courtship of Guardiola at the end of the current campaign.
Benitez is being talked up as a potential stop-gap and he is 1/2 to be installed as Di Matteo’s replacement, with Guardiola second favourite at 3/1.
Although Benitez does not have the same reputation for producing football as pleasing on the eye as Guardiola, his CV boasts a Champions League triumph, two Spanish league titles and six years’ experience of managing in the Premier League with Liverpool.
He also brought the best out of Chelsea’s misfiring striker Fernando Torres at Anfield and was linked with the position of caretaker manager at Stamford Bridge in March following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.
Harry Redknapp, who made way for Villas-Boas at Tottenham in the summer, is another out-of-work manager who could keep the hot seat at Stamford Bridge warm for Guardiola. The 65-year-old is third favourite to get the job at 5/1.
Other names in the frame include former Blues managers Avram Grant (11/1) and Jose Mourinho (20/1), as well as Mourinho’s former assistant Steve Clarke (33/1). To see all of bwin’s next Chelsea manager odds, click here.
Whoever does get the job could be forgiven for thinking that Chelsea are in the midst of a crisis. But even if they are on the brink of exiting the Champions League, the Blues are 6/4 favourites for the Capital One Cup, joint-second favourites to win the FA Cup and 4/1 third-favourites to claim the Premier League title.
Indeed, Chelsea are 33/20 to beat league leaders Manchester City (31/20) at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, which would close the gap on the Citizens in the Premier League table to a single point.
So even if the fact Abramovich is seeking his ninth manager in little over nine years means the job could be viewed as a poisoned chalice, it’s unlikely there will be a shortage of candidates for the post.
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