London's Hot Seat: Sarri Replacements

London's Hot Seat: Sarri Replacements

Maurizio Sarri is a dead man walking in London. After high profile thrashings by mid table Bournemouth, and then reigning champions Manchester City in the Premier League, their dramatic slump in form was followed closely by a tame 0-2 loss to Manchester United which all but ended the club FA cup’s run. The recent league cup final defeat also revealed cracks in the dressing room, with first choice keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s outright defiance of his manager’s substitution a glaring episode that highlights Sarri’s waning influence on his players. 

With the question now being when rather that ‘if’ Sarri gets the boot, we examine some potential suitors who could replace the Italian at the helm of Chelsea FC. 

Diego Simeone

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The Argentinian tactician has done wonders with Atletico Madrid, transforming them from just consistent Champions League qualifiers to genuine world beaters and La Liga contenders. He ended the Barcelona – Real Madrid duopoly of La Liga titles in 2014 and has the experience of contesting two Champions League finals. The new challenge and chance to manage a top premier league club such as Chelsea could tempt Simeone to London, even though he just signed a contract extension with Atletico Madrid. 

Frank Lampard

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A fan favourite and club legend, Chelsea’s all-time top scorer Frank Lampard could be the first long term Chelsea manager in recent timesHe is a promising candidate, having an in depth knowledge of the club setup, while his experience in playing with current key squad members Hazard, Luiz and Azpilicueta in his twilight years could unite the dressing room, preventing man management and player mutiny issues that have plagued Chelsea managers. Allowing club legends to transit into managers have reaped rewards for the likes of Real Madrid (Zinedine Zidane), Barcelona (Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique) and recently, Manchester United (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer), and it would not hurt to give Lampard the same opportunity. However, he is likely to stay put at Derby until the end of the season, given their current push for promotion into the premier league. 

Gianfranco Zola

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Gianfranco Zola has been Sarri’s right hand man this season, appointed as his trusted assistant in the dugout. It would be no surprise if Zola is named as the manager, at least on a caretaker basis until the end of the season if Sarri were to get the boot. He is already familiar with the setup, and with the recent success in appointing well-loved former players to the helm (Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer), the fans would most definitely get behind Zola in no time. However, his managerial record thus far is some way from being stellar, with two sackings in five appointments and most notably having little to no impact in his appointments at West Ham United and Watford previously. This may deter the Chelsea boardroom from promoting the assistant. 

Laurent Blanc

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The Frenchman at one point, was the favourite to take over as Chelsea manager following the departure of Antonio Conte. He even agreed personal terms, but was always a ‘plan B’ in the eyes of the Chelsea boardroom who had their eyes on Sarri from Napoli. Blanc had shone as a manager for Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in his homeland, leading the former to a. runner up and then to the Ligue 1 championship in the only two seasons he was in charge from 2007 to 2009. He then led PSG to 11 domestic trophies in his three seasons in charge, sweeping virtually every trophy with the only exception being the Champions League. Out of work currently since leaving PSG in 2016 and with consistent title winning pedigree, Blanc is a capable long term replacement for Sarri.

Zinedine Zidane

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The French legend is out of a job since his highly successful tenure at Real Madrid, in which he proved himself as a master tactician by leading Real Madrid to three consecutive Champions League triumphsHe has also proven to be a fantastic man manager who is keen on utilising squad rotation for the collective good, and is no stranger to immense board pressure. His experience would make him a seamless fit into the unique pressures of a Chelsea managerial role – a position often caught between player power and microscopic scrutiny from the chairman. His arrival would also be a boost to Chelsea’s effort to keep their star player Eden Hazard away from the claws of Real Madrid, who has only 12 months left on his contract and is a known admirer of Zidane. 

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