Several high-profile managers across Europe will have breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced that Pep Guardiola had signed a three-year deal to take charge at Bayern Munich from summer 2013.
The former Barcelona boss was heavily linked with a number of top sides before committing to the Bavarians, with Manchester City and Chelsea arguably the most determined of all to secure his services.
But while Roberto Mancini will be more upbeat about his job security now that Guardiola’s off the market, the curious case of Rafa Benitez means that Chelsea have been left in limbo.
Blues owner Roman Abramovich made at least two concerted efforts to lure Guardiola to Stamford Bridge, the latest of which came after the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo in November.
When Guardiola resisted the Russian oligarch’s overtures, Benitez was brought in on an interim basis until the end of the season, apparently in the hope that Pep would be won over in time to take the reins before the beginning of the next campaign.
Now that Guardiola has committed himself elsewhere, the Blues will have to reconsider their plans and in news which is likely to alarm Chelsea fans, Benitez is the new favourite to be the next permanent manager at Stamford Bridge at 2/1 (3.0).
As the former Liverpool boss was involved in several spats with the club, players and fans during his time on Merseyside, he was hardly welcomed to the Bridge with open arms by the Chelsea faithful.
And his standing with the fans hasn’t improved thanks to a record of just nine wins in 16 games, particularly as most of the slip-ups have come at home.
More positively for the anti-Benitez mob – which is considerable in size – is that there are several leading alternatives to the Rafa solution.
Former Stamford Bridge favourite Jose Mourinho heads the list at 3/1 (4.0), with the Portuguese widely considered to be leaving Real Madrid at the end of the season in order to return to the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp, who is establishing a burgeoning reputation thanks to his exploits at Borussia Dortmund, is third favourite at 5/1 (6.0), while closer to home Michael Laudrup, who has impressed in his first season at Swansea City, is available at 14/1 (15.0).
Of course, there are a few more unlikely names in the mix as well – Avram Grant is priced at 33/1 (34.0) and John Terry can be backed at 66/1 (67.0).
That said, many Chelsea fans would probably prefer to stick their fingers in their ears and bracket Benitez in the ‘unlikely names’ category along with the much-mocked successor to Mourinho and the current Blues captain.