Chelsea players tell Roman: Bring back Special One
Published 23:00 13/04/11 By Martin Lipton
Senior Chelsea stars are urging Roman Abramovich to bury the hatchet and bring Jose Mourinho back to Stamford Bridge when Carlo Ancelotti is sacked.
A number of established members of the Blues dressing room believe the Special One is the only man who can rediscover the club's winning mentality after their season collapsed in disintegration and failure at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
And the pro-Mourinho faction hope a return of the popular Guus Hiddink as Director of Football would help create a buffer zone between the Portuguese and Roman Abramovich and his inner circle to prevent the rifts that forced him out of the club in 2007.
If Abramovich asks his players for their thoughts that is the message that will come back with hopes raised by an apparent rapprochement between the Russian and Mourinho over the past year or so, with the pair breaking bread together over the dinner table.
One dressing room source said: "The players expect Carlo will go in the summer and Jose and Guus together is the preferred option.
"We know that Jose dined with some of Roman's advisers when he came over for the Fulham game last month and that has to be a good sign that they can nwork together again."
Despite that movement, it seems unlikely that Abramovich will be able to bring himself to concede he got it so badly wrong when he fell out with the most successful manager in the history of the club four years ago.
At the same time, sources close to Hiddink maintain the Dutchman, who was parachuted in to the hot-seat when Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked in 2009, has no intention of walking out on Turkey until the end of the Euro 2012 qualification campaign in November.
That could see Chelsea making a fourth approach to Mourinho's successor at the Bridge, Avram Grant, who has rejected Abramovich three times, to take up the Director of Football role effectively being vacated by Sporting Director Frank Arnesen in June if he leaves West Ham in the summer.
The problems have been intensified by the current state of inertia, with Arnesen spending time at his next club Hamburg and no decisions seemingly having been taken on transfer strategies or contract offers for the summer window.
What does seem inevitable is that Ancelotti, Double winner last term, in seeing out his final days at the club.
Ancelotti is said to be privately resigned to his fate at the end of the season despite having a year to run on his contract and will not say anything to bring matters to a head.
There is no appetite for immediate blood-letting in the wake of the club's Champions League exit, with Ancelotti expected to stay for the final six weeks of the campaign.
But should results dive then there is talk within the club that reserve team boss Steve Holland, who spent a year as manager at Crewe as has the required FA coaching qualifications, could take over as caretaker until the end of the campaign.
The search for the permanent successor does appear to be on, though, with no obvious front-runner.
Rafa Benitez, who brought Fernando Torres to Liverpool and put together a squad at Anfield that was designed to bring the best out of the £50million Spaniard, could be a target as he is available and has never hidden his enjoyment of life in England, and also bested Mourinho twice in Champions League combat.
Appointing Benitez would cause apoplexy among a number of Chelsea fans and the Dutch influence of Abramovich's guru Piet De Visser suggests Louis Van Gaal - sacked by Bayern Munich last week - Marco Van Basten or former Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard could be in the frame.
Mourinho's former Chelsea lieutenant, Andreas Villas-Boas, who has steered unbeaten Porto to the Portuguese title, has emerged as a possible contender, while former Chelsea midfielder Didier Deschamps is ready to leave Marseille for England.
Another surprise candidate could be veteran former Juventus boss Marcello Lippi, who said: "I'd like to coach Chelsea, the Premier League fascinates me.
"I miss coaching, it's normal for me to coach. My years have been intense, rewarding and there were also disappointments. But this is absolutely normal, you can not always win. In this respect I can find just satisfaction, but the desire to do my job there yet.
"I'd love to coach in Premier League. Chelsea? It would be nice. But even an international job would be nice."