Jose Mourinho is, at long last, no longer the manager at Chelsea. After losing nine out of 16 matches and leading his side to being a whole one point out of the relegation zone, Chelsea's outspoken owner, Roman Abramovich, has kicked the Portuguese manager to the curb. All this about seven months after leading his club to the top of the Premier League.
This is both shocking and not so shocking. Everyone and their mother knew that Mourinho was being scapegoated for Chelsea's failures. Yet with defeat after defeat piling up, he was still around. More than a few wondered if he would still be around at season's end, myself included. But that turned out not to be the case. Chelsea came to their senses and got rid of him, like the probably should have done a while ago, after any one of the awful losses that have plagued their season.
They could have chosen after a 3-1 home loss to sorry Liverpool on Halloween. Or a 1-0 loss at Stoke a week later. That would have given the new man in charge an entire international break to settle in. Then there was the December 4 home loss to newly promoted Bournemouth, which doesn't need to be explained. It was awful. Instead, they chose a 2-1 defeat at table topping (albeit surprisingly so) Leicester City.
So, what's next for Chelsea? Pep Guardiola is probably going to leave Bayern Munich. Although he has been more heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, I wouldn't exactly count Chelsea out. They would have to get by with an interim manager for the second half of the season and the Champions League, but that's a small price to pay in order to land the most highly regarded manager in the world. He is just the type of guy who can bring Chelsea back to what they were last year without a great deal of effort. Plus, after having won La Liga and the Champions League with Barcelona and the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, the Premier League is pretty much the only thing left for him to conquer. Why not take a ripe squad like Chelsea to the summit?
More realistically, former Dutch national team manager Guus Hiddink, who is reportedly being brought on as the interim manager, Juande Ramos, and Brendan Rodgers have been labeled as the favorites to replace Mourinho.
Hiddink, currently unemployed, most recently served as the manager for the Netherlands after the departure of Louis van Gaal. He has many stops throughout his career, including an interim post at Chelsea in 2009 before they brought on Carlo Ancelotti. Juande Ramos managed Spurs for a short time back in 2007-08. In general, he never sticks around anywhere for very long. He spent six months at Real Madrid, a month and a half at CSKA Moscow, and, most recently, four years at Ukrainian outfit Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. Finally, we are all familiar with Brendan Rodgers for his less than stunning tenure at Liverpool. His one good season was 2013-14 when, thanks to Luis Suarez, he let the Reds to second place in the Premier League. He was canned from Liverpool earlier this season.
None of these men are capably of salvaging the train wreck that is Chelsea's season. And I doubt any of them are truly able to replicate what Mourinho did during the positive portion of his reign. I can't help but think that it would be best for Chelsea to keep Hiddink as a caretaker manager and then push hardcore for Guardiola at the end of the season.
As for what's next for Jose, I'm sure some club will be insane enough to pick him up. Mourinho may have the reputation of being a madman, but he does know how to get teams to win before throwing the entire squad under the bus after a couple of losses. The thing I will miss most about him not being at Chelsea will be his post game pressers. Those were must see TV, especially after Chelsea losses., just to find out who he will blame and how. He was probably the most entertaining coach in all of sports, not just soccer. As much damage as he has done to Chelsea this season, I still feel like the Premier League is a worse place without him.