Abramovich faces another manager snub
Chelsea face the prospect of another high-profile snub if they formally approach Jurgen Klopp to be their next manager, with the Borussia Dortmund coach expected to favour the possibility of succeeding Joachim Loew as Germany coach.
Klopp has established himself as one of Europe's outstanding young managers with back-to-back Bundesliga titles and, following Pep Guardiola's decision to join Bayern Munich, is likely to figure prominently on the shortlist of candidates to become the next permanent Chelsea manager.
Sources in Germany, however, have pointed to Klopp's past interest when questioned about becoming manager of the national team. They have also stressed that Klopp is a manager who has thrived at Dortmund while working with considerable autonomy and expressed doubt over how he would adapt to the structures at Chelsea.
Klopp, who is also likely to interest Real Madrid should Jose Mourinho leave at the end of the season, signed a new contract last year at Dortmund until 2016. Loew's own contract expires after next year's World Cup and there has been a growing feeling in Germany that Klopp is the obvious successor.
Chelsea stress that their plan is still for Rafael Benitez to continue as interim manager until the end of the season, when they will review the situation.
Klopp, whose Dortmund team topped a Champions League group that included Real Madrid and Manchester City, is expected to be joined on a shortlist by Diego Simeone, the Atletico Madrid manager, with Michael Laudrup, David Moyes and Loew also likely to feature.
Sources suggest that Jose Mourinho will not be considered by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Guardiola's decision to move to the Bundesliga next season represents a major snub for Abramovich, with Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge even suggesting that the former Barcelona manager was influenced by the absence of a billionaire benefactor.
"If it were purely down to money, then Bayern would have had no chance," said Rummenigge. "I think he was impressed with our overall concept. He was pleased with the way we have established a financial independence. He is a coach with great charisma and there are players who would love to work with a coach like him."
Bayern are self-sufficient financially and, in common with Barcelona, follow a model with fan ownership. Chelsea, by contrast, have benefited financially to the tune of around £1bn from Abramovich's personal investment.
It is also believed that the high turnover of managers at Chelsea influenced Guardiola's decision.
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was among those to make some pointed observations on Twitter.
"Pep going to Bayern Munich was a shock until you step back and think why," he wrote. "Stability, organised, competitive in Champions League. Money to invest, history and time I'm assuming to put his stamp on the club. He obviously wasn't guaranteed all that at other clubs linked to!"
Attention will now turn to Abramovich's next choice as manager. The title 'interim manager' suggests limited faith in Benitez, who has endured hostility from Chelsea fans and is also likely to be in contention to succeed Mourinho at Real Madrid.
Arsenal are the next visitors to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with Arsene Wenger acknowledging that the atmosphere could help his team but adamant that Benitez should be judged on his abilities as a manager rather than his past association with Liverpool.
"He is not necessarily an interim manager – maybe he will stay there for longer," said Wenger. "He is a top-class manager. I believe the most important (thing) is the competence of the man who works and, if you respond to all the rest, you will never have any stability.
"Sometimes it is the fact that a team has a bit more doubt at home. I don't know. We have to try to take advantage of that. We know we are in a fragile job and that the confidence is very important. The confidence of the crowd in the team plays a big part."
Wenger also admitted that he expected Guardiola to come to the Premier League.
"He told me a few times he would like to come to England," he said. "I always encouraged him to come to England but Germany is not a backward step. Germany, maybe along with Spain, is the country with the best young players. It is the football of tomorrow."
Aside from Bayern and Chelsea, the two Champions League finalists last season, Guardiola was coveted by several other European clubs. "It made me feel bad for the coaches who were in the clubs at the time," Wenger added. (© Daily Telegraph, London)