By Editor Wayne Veysey
Chelsea are ready to weigh up alternatives to Jose Mourinho amid the growing possibility that the most successful manager in the club’s history could be sacked in the next fortnight.
Mourinho’s position is under review following the team’s catastrophic start to the season.
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Football Insider revealed on Saturday that the champions are ready to dismiss the Portugese in the second week of November if he does not turn around results that are placing a top-four Premier League finish in doubt.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will give Mourinho another few matches but he is running out of patience after the champions slipped to 15th in the table following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at West Ham. It was the club’s fifth Premier League defeat of the season.
The Chelsea hierarchy have been contacted by agents acting on behalf of managers interested in replacing Mourinho.
Two available men of interest to the club are former bosses Carlo Ancelotti and Guus Hiddink.
Ancelotti, 56, is on a sabbatical after being sacked by Real Madrid last summer but he has said he is keen to return to management next year.
Hiddink, 68, has been out of work since stepping down as Holland manager in June but could be a short-term option until the likes of Pep Guardiola become available next summer.
Ancelotti was sacked by Chelsea a year after steering them to a Premier League and FA Cup double but is understood to be keen to work in English football again.
Hiddink, in particular, has always had a good relationship with Abramovich, who paid his salary when he managed the Russia national team for four years.
The Londoners released a statement three weeks ago to confirm that Mourinho retained their “full support” but recognised “results have not been good enough and the team’s performances must improve”.
Chelsea subsequently beat Aston Villa 2-0 to give hope that a corner had been turned but have followed up with a goal-less draw at Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League and Saturday’s shattering defeat at Upton Park.
Chelsea face Stoke in the League Cup tomorrow but sources have said that Mourinho’s destiny is likely to be shaped by the team’s next two Premier League matches, against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge next Saturday and, then, a trip to Stoke seven days later.
Should there be little signs of improvements in results or performances, Chelsea could take the nuclear option and axe the most popular manager in the club’s history.
Anything other than a top-four Premier League finish is unthinkable for Abramovich, who regards Champions League football as a minimum requirement every season.
Football Insider revealed on 5 October that Chelsea had discussed Mourinho’s position as the first doubts began to surface among senior officials about whether he can arrest the team’s slide.
Mourinho is far from secure in his position despite signing a new four-year contract in July and his status with supporters.
The Chelsea board want Mourinho to create a dynasty and accept that his track record has earned him the right to be given time to climb the table but they will not hesitate to axe the Portugese if they are in danger of not qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Roberto di Matteo was sacked months after winning the Champions League, while Andre Villas-Boas and Luiz Felipe Scolari were axed mid-season when a top-four finish was in doubt.
Mourinho is settled with his family and is determined to make it work at Stamford Bridge but has admitted that he feared the sack.
“If the club wants to sack me they have to sack me because I’m not running away from my responsibilities or my team,” he said.
By Editor Wayne Veysey