Chelsea managers ranked by how much the fans want them to replace Pochettino

Will Ford
Former Chelsea managers Mourinho, Tuchel, Potter and Ancelotti
Former Chelsea managers Mourinho, Tuchel, Potter and Ancelotti

There was a mood shift at Chelsea regarding Mauricio Pochettino and his future after the draw at Brentford.

Though reports continue to suggest Todd Boehly and Clearlake’s preference is for him to see out the season, as we approach the sack anniversary of previous legacy manager Graham Potter, they’re also said to be working behind the scenes on a possible replacement for the current legacy manager.

Chelsea will need a new manager after inevitable Pochettino sacking

Roberto De Zerbi and Ruben Amorim are said to be the club’s preferred candidates, but we’re not interested in the reasonable options. Jose Mourinho and Thomas Tuchel have both been spuriously linked with a return to Stamford Bridge in a week in which Claude Makelele has bemoaned the lack of that most mysterious and elusive of Big Club necessities: DNA.

This is a ranking of former managers by how much The True Chelsea fan would welcome their return. Desperate for an injection of that all-important DNA, it’s essentially a ranking of that as well, starting with a man with none of the stuff, all the way up to the guy who bleeds blue, also white, red, the blue and black stripes, and sort of a warm deep red, but mainly blue.

We’ve limited the list to Roman Abramovich/Todd Boehly appointments who have managed more than one game, so none of your Steve Hollands or Bruno Saltors, but we’ve included the interims because there have been some crackers.


13) Maurizio Sarri
He bought and relied upon Jorginho. He played patient, progressive football and pressed from the front. He didn’t give enough game time to Callum Hudson-Odoi. Those were three of Sarri’s greatest Chelsea crimes.

Jorginho later became the UEFA Player of the Year in large part due to his role in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph. A style of football similar to Sarri’s is now employed by the majority of top teams. Hudson-Odoi now plays a bit-part role for Nottingham Forest. But still, “F*** Sarriball”.

They came third in the Premier League, spanked Arsenal to win the Europa League and probably would have claimed another trophy were it not for Kepa Arrizabalaga being a prized pr*ck. But still, “F*** Sarriball”. He was too calm, too considered, the football hipster’s choice. More passion, please.


12) Andre Villas-Boas
Charged with ushering in a new dawn at Chelsea, he steadily reduced the involvement of club legends, the fans hated it, he was sacked, the legends were brought back into the fold by Roberto De Matteo and they won both the Champions League and FA Cup, with said club legends essentially managing the team to those victories.

The New Jose Mourinho turned out to be anything but.


11) Graham Potter
His reputation remains intact – he’s currently the favourite to take over from Erik ten Hag at Manchester United – mainly because everyone without blue-tinted spectacles can plainly see just how difficult his job was. No pre-season, a ludicrously big but unbalanced squad, packed with players who no longer wanted to be there, a winter World Cup, he was on a hiding to nothing.

But like Sarri and Villas-Boas, he lacked the requisite anger and touchline bravado to be seen as a proper Chelsea manager by the fans, who would no doubt have been shouting Expelliarmus from the stands had they heard about the genius link the players made between their manager and a fictional wizard before he was shown the door.


10) Luiz Felipe Scolari
It was widely thought the language barrier was an issue, but Scolari denies it, instead blaming Nicolas Anelka after the Frenchman refused to move to the wing to accommodate Didier Drogba, who had been out injured. “That situation created a bad environment – I got upset,” Scolari recalled. 

Chelsea said Scolari was sacked because “the results and performances of the team appeared to be deteriorating at a key time in the season”. They had lost just four of 25 league games, were five points off top spot, had qualified for the Champions League knockouts and were still in the FA Cup. That being below-par is indicative of the club’s winning mentality back then compared to now, as is our memory of Scolari at Chelsea of him being pretty terrible.


9) Avram Grant
Here he is, the most successful permanent manager in Chelsea history. His win percentage of 67% matches that of first-spell Mourinho and betters everyone else. An extra stud or two on John Terry’s boots away from winning the Champions League, having lost his first two Premier League games at the helm, which he could quite reasonably put down to the lit match Mourinho threw behind him on exit, Grant’s Chelsea lost just one of 31 top-flight games from that point on, at a rate of 2.4 points per game.

Later work with Portsmouth and West Ham didn’t exactly chime with the ill-fated genius reputation he had built at Chelsea though, and just as the club is currently a phase right now where people are questioning whether anyone could succeed, in hindsight it feels like back then, nobody could fail.


8) Rafael Benitez
‘Thank you Rafa, we forgive you’ read the sign on the final day of the season, on the back of their Europa League triumph over Benfica and qualification for the Champions League. He required absolution for having the temerity to accept an interim job at Chelsea having previously managed Liverpool, admittedly often to Chelsea’s cost.

Forgiveness but not love from the Chelsea fans, who would rightly be baffled by the club re-appointing a boss whose last three jobs have been with DL Pro, Everton and Celta Vigo, none of which have gone well.


7) Guus Hiddink
An absurdly good first interim spell, in which Chelsea lost just one of 22 games, won the FA Cup and were cruelly denied a place in the Champions League final by that Andres Iniesta goal. Could be even higher in this ranking were it not for his second interim spell, which was nearly as bad as the first was good, or the fact that he’s not really managed since then.


6) Roberto Di Matteo
Obviously won The Big One, and also the FA Cup, while in interim charge, at which point Abramovich couldn’t not offer him the permanent job, in which he lasted just over three months. But there’s significant Knows The Club at play here of course, given he also played for Chelsea, in what is seen as the heyday by a chunk of the legacy fans, before all that winning everything nonsense started.


5) Frank Lampard
“It was an easy decision for me because this is my club,” Lampard said ahead of a second managerial spell which saw Chelsea win one of 11 games and score nine goals. We wonder if he should in fact have used his powers of reasoning when accepting what he deemed to be a “no-brainer” at the time.

Ironically, a third stint would arguably be more of a no-brainer, given there probably isn’t anything Lampard could do to further tarnish his guttered reputation. And while the Chelsea fans would secretly be more than a tad discouraged by the thought of his ill-fated return, it would have to be in secret, because turning against Super Frank, even with the raft of evidence that said turncoat could use to back up the assertion that his appointment would be a disaster, is tantamount to Chelsea treason.

Frank Lampard during a match
Frank Lampard did not enjoy his second stint at Chelsea.


4) Antonio Conte
He ran a very tight ship, to the extent that the players hated him by the end, but he had won the Premier League and an FA Cup by that point. And while the Chelsea fans have kidded themselves into thinking that it’s a legacy coach that the club needs, if there’s anything to this DNA nonsense at all, Boehly should be avoiding managers who stay longer than two years, and leave anything less than a dumpster fire in their wake.

Manager comes. Manager wins. Manager f***s someone or everyone off. Manager leaves. Why mess with a tried and tested method? Oh, and by the way, Chelsea are playing 3-4-f***ing-3.


3) Carlo Ancelotti
This is where the Chelsea DNA claims come under real scrutiny, because we would argue Don Carlo – under whom Chelsea won The Double playing quite possibly the best football the club has ever seen – didn’t (and still doesn’t) appear to have all that much of what we assume are the key aspects of the Chelsea genome, which can essentially be boiled down to being a bit of a wrong ‘un.

It can’t simply be a case of having a winning mentality, because then all top club DNA would be the same. And if you’re going to sit there and tell us that Chelsea DNA is the same as Real Madrid DNA, which is the same as Liverpool DNA, and Bayern Munich DNA, then we would advise you spend an afternoon or two with a football geneticist.

Mourinho, Conte and Tuchel were all spiky interviewees when things didn’t go well and very shouty on the touchline. There was a siege mentality, with their character translated to the players, who were sent out with a view to being horrible to play against.

Chelsea were still a nasty bunch under Ancelotti, but it never felt as though that was because of him, with the gritty side of the team more a hangover from his predecessors.

Frankly, to hell with the DNA, the guy’s won four Champions Leagues.

READ: The top 10 Premier League teams of all time


2) Thomas Tuchel
On the back of a report which claims Boehly admits that the club was ‘significantly better positioned’ with the German in charge and could bring him back if he ‘eats humble pie’, we are once again left wondering what the bloody hell Tuchel did wrong in the first place.

‘Off-field issues’ is about as much as we’ve heard from a frustratingly watertight dressing room, though there were rumours of the relationship between manager and owner being strained for some time, and also a lack of respect from the players. That shouldn’t be a huge issue though, given just four of the 28-man squad from Tuchel’s last full season now remain at the club, which will likely drop to just two – Reece James and Ben Chilwell – with Thiago Silva and Trevoh Chalobah likely to leave.

Tuchel is a fan favourite by dint of that Champions League success, but also because it felt – even in his last season – that Chelsea were one or two signings away from challenging the Premier League elite. Had they signed someone other than Romelu Lukaku to score the goals, it could have been very different.

He’s also the one manager since Conte that’s felt like he really got the club. Again, that’s an intangible, feely nonsense of a statement, but he combined being a winner with the us-against-them chat that gets fans onside.


1) Jose Mourinho
There were probably a couple of tongues in cheeks among the Chelsea fans chanting ‘Jose Mourinho’ at Mauricio Pochettino on Saturday, but in a bid to feel something, anything, there is some logic in calling for the return of the guy who had them feeling the most.

But just as you can’t trust people who like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can’t trust the fans of Chelsea Football Club to select the next manager of Chelsea Football Club, particularly not when in a slump like this, as times of strife attract people towards the extremes. Mourinho is the Donald Trump of Chelsea manager returnees.

And there’s nothing since his last stint at Chelsea that suggests he’s still up for the task of winning the biggest trophies, and there’s arguably nothing about his career as a whole that points to him being the man to develop this group of talented, but very inexperienced footballers.