CHELSEA have sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo in the wake of their 3-0 Champions League defeat against Juventus. The Italian has paid the price for a poor run of recent results in both the Barclays Premier League and Europe, with last night's loss in Turin leaving them on the brink of being the first reigning Champions League winners to be eliminated in the group stage.
But who are the most likely candidates to fill the vacant manager’s position at Stamford Bridge?
Odds - 7/2
The former Barcelona manager has long been rumoured as the ideal candidate for Blues owner Roman Abramovich. Not only does Guardiola boast an impressive CV - in four years with the Catalan giants he won three Primera Division titles and the Champions League twice - but he was also the mastermind behind their much admired style of free flowing football. The former Spain international is currently on a year-long sabbatical from football and is living in New York.
Odds - 20/1
The self-styled 'Special One' was the longest-serving manager at Chelsea under Abramovich and brought them their first Premier League title in 50 years in the 2004-05 season. However, his defensive brand of football left him at odds with Abramovich and, following a poor run of results at the start of the 2007-08 season, he left the club by mutual consent. Mourinho went on to win the league, cup and Champions league treble with Inter Milan before joining Real Madrid. Mourinho is believed to be unsatisfied at the Santiago Bernabeu, however, and has long made it known that he wants a return to the Premier League. But many believe that he is more likely to head for Manchester rather than return to Chelsea.
Odds - 8/13
Currently without a job, Benitez built a fine track record at Valencia and Liverpool, although his reputation took a hit following a brief and unsuccessful spell at Inter Milan. The Spaniard was the bookies' favourite to replace former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, who was sacked earlier this year, after reports of contact with the club, but a lack of recent activity might count against him.
Odds - 3/1
Redknapp was considered one of the contenders when Villas-Boas was sacked but was thought to be involved in a club-v-country tug of war between Tottenham and England. However, the Football Association instead appointed Roy Hodgson and Spurs unceremoniously sacked the 65-year-old despite him leading the London club to fourth in the Premier League last season. His credentials are unquestioned however and will find backing from at least one man at the club - nephew Frank Lampard. He has been linked with the vacant manager’s job of the Ukraine but a return to the Premier League would undoubtedly appeal.
Odds - 35/1
The Dutchman would have been an overwhelming favourite for the post if he was not at the ambitious Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. He previously stepped into the breach when the Blues parted company with Luiz Felipe Scolari and made a big impression on the playing staff, while maintaining positive relations with Abramovich. Should there be a get-out clause in his Anzhi contract, Chelsea would surely be willing to pay.
* Odds taken from Paddy Power at time of publication