Zola, Mourinho and the coaches who could replace Sarri if he is sacked by Chelsea

The Italian coach is under mounting pressure after Sunday's humiliating 6-0 loss at Manchester City but who are the leading candidates to succeed him?

Maurizio Sarri is still Chelsea manager – for now.

Sunday's embarrassing 6-0 capitulation at Manchester City has piled pressure on the Blues boss, with his side slipping out of the Champions League places and down to sixth in the standings.

But should Roman Abramovich decide to sack Sarri, who could replace him in the Stamford Bridge hotseat? 

Goal takes a look at the leading candidates below...

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    Gianfranco Zola

    Chelsea could be tempted to follow in the footsteps of Man United and hire a club legend as interim manager until the end of the season. 

    Gianfranco Zola is currently Sarri's assistant and would be the obvious choice as caretaker coach should Abramovich decide to wait until the summer to name a permanent replacement.

    As well as being one of the finest players ever to represent Chelsea, Zola also has plenty of experience of managing in England, though his spells at West Ham, Watford and Birmingham City were short and not particularly sweet.

    Still, if Chelsea want to replicate the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer effect by hiring a fan favourite who also commands the respect of the dressing room, they need look no further than Zola.

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    Guus Hiddink

    When it comes to steadying the Chelsea ship, there is arguably no more qualified coach than Guus Hiddink.

    The Dutchman has already served as Chelsea's interim manager on two previous occasions, first in 2009, when he replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari at the helm, and then again in 2015, as a temporary replacement for Jose Mourinho.

    During his first stint, he lost just one game and ended the season by lifting the FA Cup. Chelsea's fans and players wanted him to stay but he fulfilled his promise to return to his role as Russia boss.

    When he returned six years later, Hiddink set a new record for the longest unbeaten streak as a new manager in the Premier League (12 games) and took Chelsea from 16th to 10th by the end of the campaign.

    He is currently in charge of China's U-21 team but he could well be tempted by a return to west London, where he would certainly be given a warm welcome.

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    Brendan Rodgers

    Brendan Rodgers served as Chelsea's youth head coach and then manager of the reserves during Mourinho's first spell in charge of the senior squad. 

    However, his appointment might not go down well with the Blues faithful, given the Irishman's ties to Liverpool, whom he so very nearly led to the Premier League title in 2014.

    Indeed, they never warmed to another former Reds boss, Rafael Benitez, when he was in charge of the Blues for a short period in 2013, even though the Spaniard won the Europa League.

    Rodgers, though, has enhanced his reputation in recent years by leading Celtic to back-to-back domestic trebles in Scotland and has long been touted for another top job in England.

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    Jose Mourinho

    Following his spectacular recent demise at Manchester United, what wouldn't we give to see Mourinho back in the Premier League right away?!

    He has already coached Chelsea twice before, of course, winning three Premier League titles in total.

    Both spells ended unceremoniously but the Portuguese remains a popular figure with the fans, even if his relationship with Abramovich is strained.

    A third spell at Stamford Bridge seems unlikely, particularly with Mourinho's reputation having been severely damaged by his Old Trafford sacking, but one can never rule out anything when it comes to 'The Special One'.


    Diego Simeone

    Diego Simeone has gained a reputation as one of the most respected coaches in Europe during his time at Atletico Madrid.

    In his eight years with the Rojiblancos, he has transformed them into a Spanish powerhouse capable of challenging Barcelona and Real Madrid for Liga titles.

    The Argentine, however, could soon be looking for a fresh challenge as he marks nearly a decade in Madrid, and a new adventure in England could be too good of an opportunity to pass up.

    He has a proven track record in winning silverware – seven trophies and counting at Atletico – and has also led his side to two Champions League finals.

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    Frank Lampard

    It would be the stuff of fairy tale for club legend Frank Lampard to return to Chelsea as manager.

    The former Blues midfielder is currently in charge of Derby County and made headlines earlier this season his Championship outfit knocked a Mourinho-led Manchester United out of the Carabao Cup.

    Like Zola, Lampard is a fan favourite who would be very familiar with the philosophy and inner-workings of Chelsea.

    However, taking over at Chelsea right now might be a premature move for Lampard, who is in his debut season with the Rams.

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    Leonid Slutsky

    Leonid Slutsky won't be too familiar a name in England, though he managed CSKA Moscow for seven years before a brief stint with Hull City in 2017.

    The Russian coach is currently manager of Dutch side Vitesse and not exactly a glamorous suggestion for a Sarri replacement.

    However, he has a positive personal relationship with Abramovich, which could well work in his favour.

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    Laurent Blanc

    Laurent Blanc was a name considered by Chelsea before they appointed Sarri and could be in contention once again to take over from the Tuscan. 

    As manager of the France national team, Blanc led Les Bleus to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 before taking charge of the Ligue 1 giants PSG in 2013.

    At the Parc de Princes, Blanc won 11 domestic trophies, including three consecutive Ligue 1 titles, though his lack of success in Europe ultimately cost him his job.

    In addition, Blanc has no Premier League experience but it would be a surprise if he were not at least considered for any potential vacancy at Stamford Bridge.

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    Luis Enrique

    Like Blanc, Luis Enrique was another contender when Chelsea were looking for a replacement for Antonio Conte.

    He has proven his worth as Barcelona coach, winning a treble in his first season at Camp Nou, in 2014-15, and then the double in his second.

    Luis Enrique currently has his hands full as Spain national team coach, however, and looks determined to put La Roja back among the game's elite at Euro 2020.

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    Eddie Howe

    Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe already has the support of pundit Jamie Redknapp, who believes that his success with the Cherries has earned him a move to a top-six club.

    Howe has certainly done an impressive job at Dean Court since taking charge in 2012 and leading the club back to the Premier League in 2015.

    A stint at Chelsea may be too big a task for him right now and perhaps the Blues aren't ones for taking a chance on emerging talent – especially if their lack of faith in their own youth academy is anything to go by.