Days after reports surfced linking Carlos Ancelotti to Chelsea next season, Gus Hiddink has completed his brief spell in charge at Stamford Bridge with Saturday’s F.A. Cup final triumph over Everton. In the wake of allegations that John Terry all but demanded Jose Mourinho’s departure, the Guardian’s Paul Hayward pleads with Roman Abramovitch to “handle the succession better than he has in all previous attempts.”
An Italian, a Portuguese, an Israeli, a Brazilian, a Dutchman and now probably an Italian again: this is the timeline of 21st-century Chelsea managers. Sticklers will point to the missing Englishman. Squeezed into this cosmopolitan sequence is Ray Wilkins, who assumed command for a few days between Luiz Felipe Scolari’s sacking and Hiddink’s arrival from the Red Adair school.
Some senior Chelsea players are known to harbour deep misgivings about starting over with a Milanese aristocrat steeped in Serie A who speaks little English. It would take Ancelotti several months to adjust to the Premier League, with its unique rhythms. In Italy he is synonymous with ageing teams who play slow football: the very thing Abramovich was trying to escape, supposedly, when he complained to Ancelotti that his side lacked a “personality”.
“I wanted it to be much harder for someone to win a trophy [in English football] than to do it in three-and-a-half months,” the Everton manager, David Moyes, said of Hiddink. One wonders whether the best manager outside the top four has been mentioned as a possible successor. It worked against Everton, of course, that Chelsea’s players were on such a mission to send a Dutchman back to Russia with love.
It will be much harder for Abramovich to find someone new for them to adore. If he were thinking straight, Moyes would be a candidate.