CHELSEA have sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo.
The Blues boss, 42, was under increasing pressure going into last night’s make-or-break Champions League group game with Juventus. And the 3-0 defeat in Italy proved to be the last straw for ruthless owner Roman Abramovich, who has axed Di Matteo despite the Italian guiding the club to glory in the FA Cup and Europe last season.
A club statement said: “The team’s recent performances and results have not been good enough. The owner and the board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season. The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions. The owner and the board would like to thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in March."
Pep Guardiola: The former Barcelona manager has long been rumoured as the ideal candidate for Blues owner Roman Abramovich. Not only does Guardiola boast an impressive CV - in four years with the Catalan giants he won three Primera Division titles and the Champions League twice - but he was also the mastermind behind their much admired style of free flowing football. The former Spain international is currently on a year-long sabbatical from football.
Jose Mourinho: The self-styled 'Special One' was the longest-serving manager at Chelsea under Abramovich and brought them their first Premier League title in 50 years in the 2004-05 season. However, his defensive brand of football left him at odds with Abramovich and, following a poor run of results at the start of the 2007-08 season, he left the club by mutual consent. Mourinho went on to win the league, cup and Champions league treble with Inter Milan before joining Real Madrid. Mourinho is believed to be unsatisfied at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, and has long made it known that he wants a return to the Premier League.
Harry Redknapp: Redknapp was considered one of the contenders when Villas-Boas was sacked but was thought to be involved in a club-v-country tug of war between Tottenham and England. However, the Football Association instead appointed Roy Hodgson and Spurs unceremoniously sacked the 65-year-old despite him leading the London club to fourth in the Premier League last season. His credentials are unquestioned however and will find backing from at least one man at the club - nephew Frank Lampard.
Guus Hiddink: The Dutchman would have been an overwhelming favourite for the post if he was not at the ambitious Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. He previously stepped into the breach when the Blues parted company with Luiz Felipe Scolari and made a big impression on the playing staff, while maintaining positive relations with Abramovich. Should there be a get-out clause in his Anzhi contract, Chelsea would surely be willing to pay.