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Six candidates to replace Sarri as Chelsea head coach

Six candidates to replace Sarri as Chelsea head coach

12/06/2019 at 14:01Updated 16/06/2019 at 14:13

With Maurizio Sarri appointed the new Juventus head coach, Ben Grounds assesses the candidates to replace him at Chelsea.

Sarri has left Chelsea after just one season, leaving the Europa League champions searching for a 13th new manager in the 16 years that Roman Abramovich has been at the club.

The Chelsea owner has paid out £92.9m in compensation to sacked bosses, most recently paying Antonio Conte £9m following his acrimonious departure last summer.

Video - Euro Papers: Lampard to replace Juventus-bound Sarri as Chelsea manager


His compatriot Sarri has joined him on the Stamford Bridge managerial scrapheap as he has been confirmed as the new Juventus boss, sparking the hunt for his successor.

Sarri will reflect that his year-long stay in England has been a success, pointing to his side's demolition of Arsenal in Baku last month after securing Champions League football via finishing third in the Premier League.

But with his playing style and team selection often at odds with supporters, who should his replacement be and what would they bring to a cantankerous dressing room?

Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard is favourite to make an emotional return to Chelsea

Frank Lampard is favourite to make an emotional return to ChelseaPA Sport

The 2/7 favourite. Lampard took Derby County to within 90 minutes of the Premier League in his first season as a manager, but taking on his dream job so soon after making the transition from being a player may be too great a leap.

The Blues legend has demonstrated his strong man-management skills and worked with youngsters Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori last season during their loan spells from the Bridge - an added bonus given the club's looming transfer ban.

Lampard would bring Jody Morris back with him, a first-team coach at Pride Park who enjoyed several years of success at youth-team level with Chelsea, and the supporters would instantly be onside with the appointment.

But as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has experienced with Manchester United, once the inevitable bounce from generating such a feel-good atmosphere around the club subsides, the question of whether it is enough to appoint a man who 'knows the club' will come to the surface.

Massimiliano Allegri

Massimiliano Allegri could be in line for a first job in England

Massimiliano Allegri could be in line for a first job in EnglandPA Sport

The 3/1 marquee name. In the continued absence of Abramovich, Marina Granovskaia has developed a knack for getting the best deal for Chelsea.

Having negotiated Eden Hazard's sale to Real Madrid in a transfer that could cost up to £150m, the woman once dubbed the 'grey mouse' by a former teacher may overlook Lampard and opt for Italy's Big Cheese.

Allegri would represent a third successive Italian manager at the helm, but where Conte brought his nation's stereotypical passion and Sarri's time was dominated his stubbornness to implement a footballing philosophy based on possession and progression, Allegri's pragmatism makes him stand out from his compatriots.

His track record in Serie A speaks for itself, with no fewer than six Scudettos to his name, four Coppa Italias, while he also took Juve to the Champions League final on two occasions.

But should the transfer ban remain in place, Allegri's inability to replace Hazard, as well as his admission that he will call time on his career in 2022, may work against him.

Javi Gracia

Javi Gracia has emerged as a surprise candidate to replace Sarri

Javi Gracia has emerged as a surprise candidate to replace SarriPA Sport

Should Chelsea opt against Lampard and Allegri, a name that has surprisingly entered the conversation is Watford's Gracia, who has surpassed expectations since arriving at Vicarage Road in January 2018.

Tipped to be among the relegation candidates, the 49-year-old Spaniard helped the Hornets reach 50 points for the first time in the Premier League, and he capped a fine campaign by guiding them to the FA Cup final.

Like Allegri, he would represent a welcome departure from Sarri's dogmatic approach towards handling a squad brimful of unresponsive egos.

A record of 23 defeats from 52 league games does not point to a manager with top six credentials, and such a low-key appointment would not inject disaffected fans with the belief that Liverpool and Manchester City can be challenged over the next couple of seasons.

Steve Holland

Steve Holland spent seven years at Chelsea in a coaching capacity

Steve Holland spent seven years at Chelsea in a coaching capacityPA Sport

The former Chelsea coach and current England assistant manager to Gareth Southgate, Holland was touted as a replacement for Sarri on an interim basis when things began to unravel for the Italian in February following the humiliating defeats to City and Bournemouth.

The 49-year-old would instantly command respect having been a fixture on the Chelsea bench under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte before his move to work with the national team.

With just one year as a number one on his CV, over a decade ago at Crewe Alexandra, Holland called for English managers to be given more respect across the world in a recent interview with BBC 5Live, suggesting he is ready to make a return to the hot seat.

His experience of working alongside seven different coaches in seven years at Chelsea - four of whom had either managed Real Madrid or won the Champions League - adds substance to claims that the necessary tools to build another title-winning side lie closer to home.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United in December 2018

Jose Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United in December 2018PA Sport

Surely we are not about to witness a third stint for the man who won three titles, three League Cups and an FA Cup during his previous two reigns, but the Portuguese remains among the contenders given his availability, proximity with regards to his current living arrangements, and wealth of knowledge of the club's everyday operations.

After his second spell ended under a fetid cloud of acrimony in 2015, Mourinho would welcome the chance to put right the "palpable discord with players" that was cited by the club’s then technical director, Michael Emenalo.

Should Chelsea's transfer ban be upheld, he might relish creating a siege mentality against the authorities, but the Special One's return certainly doesn't hold the same appeal as it once did.

Nuno Espirito Santo

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has ambitions to manage at the highest level

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has ambitions to manage at the highest levelPA Sport

Espirito Santo's Wolves side took the Premier League by storm as they tormented many top-six sides on their way to a deserved seventh-place finish, and with it, a Europa League opportunity next term. Continuity was key with the club containing just 19 senior outfield players.

The Portuguese would seek to work with a similarly-sized core group at Chelsea, with the added depth to compete across four competitions, but his agent Jorge Mendes' role as an adviser to Wolves complicates any departure from Molineux.

Espirito Santo has shown himself to be an astute tactician in upgrading his Wolves team from Championship winners to the top flight's seventh best side in 12 months, but after failed stints with Valencia and Porto, choosing serenity over conquering instability may represent a shrewd move, for now.