Chelsea Players Want Jose - Reports
Jose Mourinho would reportedly be the overwhelming choice of the Chelsea dressing room to return to Stamford Bridge next season. Mourinho was sacked 19 months ago after falling out with owner Roman Abramovich. The Chelsea supremo was unhappy that his club had not won the Champions League in Mourinho's three years in charge and felt his authority was constantly being undermined by his charismatic coach. However, the decision has not been a success given Mourinho's replacement, Avram Grant, was sacked at the end of last season, which ended trophyless for the London outfit. Former World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari then lasted only until February after arriving at Stamford Bridge in a blaze of publicity during the summer. Guus Hiddink has been brought in to steady the ship until the end of the season but there are doubts whether the Dutchman will remain beyond the end of May given he is under contract to the Russian national team. The Chelsea players do at least feel under Hiddink the club is moving in the right direction once more. However, it's understood the dressing room would plump for Mourinho if the choice was offered. That scenario seems most improbable given the unwillingness of either Mourinho or Abramovich to back down from their respective positions. Indeed, it is now felt if Mourinho does come back to England, it would almost certainly be to Manchester United, where close friends feel he would be a perfect fit. The former FC Porto coach has spoken warmly about his affection for Sir Alex Ferguson and admitted the opportunity to replace the Scot is one he could not turn down if it was offered. Yet, as it is widely assumed Mourinho will leave Inter Milan in the summer even though he has taken them clear in Serie A, a vacancy at Stamford Bridge is likely to crop up before the one at Old Trafford. Hiddink has consistently stuck to his mantra that he will return to Russia at the season's end - something Chelsea, as yet, have been unwilling to challenge. Abramovich must certainly tread a delicate path as he has a financial investment in both club and country and knows the Russian federation would not be impressed by the loss of Hiddink midway through a World Cup qualifying campaign. Letting the Dutchman continue to the end of qualifying on a part-time basis would appear to be a non-starter, partly because of the uncertainty if Russia were to reach South Africa 2010, leaving Abramovich to carry out some delicate negotiations if Hiddink proves to be his chosen coach. Hiddink's impressive record as coach with PSV Eindhoven, South Korea and Australia suggests he is more adaptable than Scolari was and his ability to speak English is clearly a major asset, even in Chelsea's cosmopolitan dressing room. It is also apparent Hiddink likes to do things his way, to the extent that he has introduced short 12-minute team talks in order to help increase concentration levels. The continuity of keeping Hiddink would obviously be a factor, although as that ultimate scenario is by no means certain, AC Milan's Carlo Ancelotti remains the favourite. However, that situation would almost certainly change if Chelsea were to end Abramovich's long wait for European glory in Rome next month.
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