Nagelsmann and Mourinho among favourites to replace sacked Graham Potter at Chelsea?


A 2-0 home loss to Aston Villa on Saturday was enough to see Chelsea fire their second manager this season as Graham Potter was handed his marching orders.

The former Brighton boss struggled to turn things around at Stamford Bridge as his side struggled to score goals, let alone win games.

Potter’s departure capped a busy fortnight of managerial movement in Europe, with a fellow sacked manager now emerging as his most likely successor.

Julian Nagelsmann was released by Bayern Munich at the end of last month and the Blues appear keen to land the German as their next manager, but there is no shortage of other options.

John Terry

Fellow club great Frank Lampard left Stamford Bridge after 18 months in the job, Chelsea’s form having collapsed entirely by early 2021. However, Lampard’s appointment made everyone feel good to start with and that alone would be an upgrade on the current malaise.

Terry following in his old friend’s footsteps and taking charge of Chelsea far too early on in his own fledgling coaching career isn’t quite as far-fetched as it sounds. The former England captain has never led a senior side from the dugout, with his experience limited to three years as Dean Smith’s assistant at Aston Villa before returning to Chelsea last year to work with the club’s youth teams and as a coaching consultant.

That’s right, he’s in the building already. Terry had ambitions to pursue a managerial career but claims to have had a change of heart after missing out on a few jobs post-Villa. Surely he’d find the pull of Chelsea too much to resist…

Jose Mourinho

Come on, really? Things might not have gone well for Potter but Chelsea aren’t perched just above the relegation zone, as was the case when Mourinho’s second spell at the Bridge spectacularly unravelled in late 2015. Still, despite taking charge of Manchester United and Tottenham since, there remains obvious affection for ‘The Special One’ among Chelsea supporters.

During his transformative first spell in charge between 2004 and 2007, Mourinho led Chelsea to their first English title in 50 years. Of the six times the Blues have been crowned champions of England, Mourinho was in charge for three of them. On the other hand, it is now around a decade since he could legitimately be considered one of the leading coaches in world football, as appointments by Tottenham and now Roma demonstrate.

He led the Giallorossi to success in the inaugural Europa Conference League last season, offering a reminder of his trophy-winning talents. The Daily Mail reported recently that Mourinho’s representatives had made contact with the Chelsea hierarchy to notify them that their man would be interested if Potter was sacked. Stranger things have happened.

Zinedine Zidane

Okay, we’re out of that two-part 2000s Chelsea cosplay to discuss some other candidates. In that era, Zinedine Zidane was widely regarded as one of the finest players in the world. As a coach, the Frenchman has maintained an enigmatic air.

It seems a very strange thing to write about a man who made history by winning three Champions Leagues in succession and four overall at Real Madrid, but do we have any way of knowing how good Zidane really is as a coach? He was clearly the perfect man for a specific moment at Madrid, managing a dressing room he knew forensically, massaging egos and making shrewd in-game calls to helm a glorious era.

The intriguing question is how well Zidane’s talents would translate outside of Madrid’s complicated and unique ecosystem. More significant, as far as Chelsea or other potential suitors are concerned, is how much desire Zizou has to offer any sort of answer. He has been mentioned in dispatches around various high-profile jobs, most notably Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and the French national team, but his top-flight CV begins and ends with his two decorated stints at Madrid.

A high-profile appointment with a proven track record when it comes to winning trophies and coaxing the best out of a disparate dressing room? There is no doubt that Zidane ticks those boxes. The other unknowns make this one feel like a long shot.

Luis Enrique

Loads of talented, skilful, versatile attackers and not a reliable centre-forward in sight? Luis Enrique is your man! A look at how the former Barcelona boss set up his Spain teams suggests he could get an instant uplift from this Chelsea squad.

Recent reports, both in Catalonia and from Fabrizio Romano, have suggested Luis Enrique is ready to return to management following Spain’s underwhelming campaign at the Qatar World Cup and that Chelsea would interest him.

On the face of it, Luis Enrique does feel like the best combination of a coach with experience of managing star names and winning trophies — his Barcelona side with the sensational forward line of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar swept to a treble in 2014/15 — and a man with a footballing vision and a willingness to place trust in youngsters. His arrival would certainly appease most dissenting voices.

Mauricio Pochettino — 14/1

This would at least invert the recent trend of former Chelsea managers ending up at Spurs. In the years that have since passed, a number of factors — from his own stuttering tenure at PSG to the enduring meme potential of Tottenham’s failure to win anything — have made it easy to forget quite what a brilliant job Pochettino did in north London. Similarly, his Southampton spell after arriving in England as a virtual unknown in 2013 was a little masterpiece.

Pochettino’s pedigree as an elite Premier League coach places him above everyone on this list barring Mourinho, whose efforts after succeeding him at Tottenham left few doubts over who is now the most accomplished coach.

For those doubting the former Argentina international on the back of his time in Paris, it is worth remembering the esteem in which Chelsea fans still hold Thomas Tuchel, who lifted the Champions League with the Blues after failing to do so at PSG. When considering the merits of PSG and the elite coaches with whom they cross paths, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the club are a bigger problem than any individual.

Pochettino has previously said he could never manage Barcelona on account of enduring loyalties to Espanyol, who he played for and coached. Maybe working for Chelsea as a Tottenham hero could present similar problems but, if not, there’s a lot to like about this potential link-up.

Brendan Rodgers — 7/1

Sacked just hours before Graham Potter, the former Leicester City and Liverpool manager has quickly been linked with the Blues.

While he’ll unlikely be Chelsea’s first or even second choice, Rodgers’ Premier League experience would make him a slightly safer bet than some other names.

Should the Blues struggle to land their preferred manager, a late move for Rodgers wouldn’t be too surprising.

Julian Nagelsmann — 1/3

Despite a solid record at Bayern Munich, Nagelsmann found himself out of a job at the end of March with Premier League clubs wasting no time to line up for his services.

Tottenham were linked straight after Antonio Conte’s sacking, but Chelsea seem even more intent on landing the German and would certainly have the financial backing to lure Nagelsmann to London.

The Blues would be able support Nagelsmann as he rebuilds the side, while their place in the Champions League quarter finals this season would also be tempting for a manager that booked his former side’s place in the same stage of the competition.

According to Fabrizio Romano, Nagelsmann was mentioned in internal Chelsea talks before Potter was sacked and the club made an approach on the same day they fired the former Brighton boss.

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