It's safe to say that the Blues are in disarray: without a permanent leader heading into the vital Champions League clash with Juventus later in the month, and with this weekend bringing yet more dropped points, it's not even yet certain that the Stamford Bridge outfit will grace Europe's top competition next season.
As such, the race is on to find a manager - and to find one soon. The media and the fans have wasted no time in mooting possible successors already, so we here at Goal.com have brought together some of the key names involved to give you a clear look at who might be filling the hotseat at Stamford Bridge...
||Could it be? Could Avram Grant really make a return to the club that he was ousted out of at the end of last season? The Israeli was originally a figure of fun amongst some for his lack of experience and his idiosyncratic manner, but in the end only an all-conquering Manchester United side bested his Blues - something that Scolari can't match. That being said, his lack of innovation during his first stint in charge means he remains an unpopular choice with the fans, but he nevertheless remains the front-runner for the manager's job. Stranger things have happened - admittedly, not too often...|
||Now, here's the thing: sources in the UK are reporting that Hiddink is being groomed as the director of football to Grant's head coach. Be that as it may, the Dutchman remains a managerial prospect in his own right due to a massive amount of experience, including his present tenure with the Russian national side. That very affiliation will no doubt make him a popular figure with Roman Abramovich, but whether or not he wants to give it up for the pressure-cooker of Stamford Bridge is another matter...|
||Would Roberto Mancini give up sitting around at home or in the TV studio? Not according to his agent. He has, for the time being, been put out of the frame for the job, but nevertheless remains a realistic contender. The former Inter manager hasn't graced a dugout since being let go by the Nerazzurri in summer in favour of Jose Mourinho - it would be poetic justice if he was to step into the role that the Portuguese had previousl vacated. Some question his mental toughness and European expertise, but you can only beat what's in front of you, and there's little arguing with his domestic trophy haul. His agent has said there's been no contact - yet - while others have apparently heard from Chelsea, so he's not the front runner.|
||Frank Rijkaard is another one who's spent some time on the sidelines since his spell at Barcelona ended in ignominy. He may have brought an historic double of the Liga and Champions League to the Camp Nou, but his latter days at the club were fraught with controversy and a seeming inability to keep the big names under control. With a bit of discipline by his side, though - a good cop, bad cop arrangement - he has been known to work wonders. Such wonders have long been appreciated by Abramovich, who has at times seemed to be almost desperate to replicate Rijkaard's Barcelona at the Bridge - well, here could be his chance...|
||Ray Wilkins is a man with Chelsea connections. As caretaker, an instant turnaround in Blues' form could see his stock rise and he should be a hit with the more traditional fans. But then again, cynics will note that his spell as a manager during the mid-1990s was largely undistinguished, and that since he replaced the highly-regarded Steve Clarke as Chelsea training coach earlier in the season, the Blues have been on the slide...|
||Zola's spell at West Ham would rival Scolari's at Chelsea for brevity if he was to take this job: the former Blues legend is a mere five months into a three-year deal at Upton Park, and thus he'd come at a price. But in his brief time in charge of the Hammers he has won admirers for his entertaining yet battling style of football. Above all, he is one of Chelsea's favourite sons, having spent the best part of a decade at the Bridge. He has for now pledged his loyalty to the Hammers, insisting that the Boleyn Ground is no stepping stone, but how quickly things change in the world of football. Zola could be a risky choice, but one that could arguably reap the biggest rewards of all. And might he bring Steve Clarke back with him?|
And then there are a host of other options: several English coaches are out of work, but Steve Clarke is apparently head of this chasing domestic pack for the big job. Meanwhile former Blue Roberto Di Matteo and recently sacked, league-winning Real Madrid boss Bernd Schuster have also been mentioned.
As for the real outsiders, how about Didier Deschamps? He's an ex-Chelsea man who's managed at the top level, even though he's been out of the game for a while. Martin O'Neill, head of a very effective Aston Villa system, would be another Premier League option to go with Zola, too. Few would doubt his ability to do a good job, but he is currently living the Villa project through and through. Would he really leave it all behind for such a high-pressure move?
Stay with us on Goal.com to watch contenders come and go at a rapid pace, with the Blues almost certain to announce a successor within the week...
Ewan Macdonald, Goal.com