Outright Odds

Next Chelsea manager favourites + odds: Predicted XIs for potential Pochettino replacements

By Harry Edwards

Next Chelsea manager odds: Pochettino the frontrunner as Potter's future thrown into doubt

Published: 15:55, 28 February 2024 | Updated: 12:35, 1 March 2024

Chelsea are on their third permanent manager of the new era, and eyes are now turning to a potential fourth.

Mauricio Pochettino is the man currently in the dugout, taking charge of over 30 games so far, and it’s been underwhelming. The former Tottenham manager was brought back to England with the hopes of overseeing a big Chelsea project.

Over two transfer windows, Chelsea threw a lot of money at their problems, spending the big bucks on young players that someone needed to build into a team. And though Pochettino did lead Chelsea to an EFL Cup final, their defeat to Liverpool summed up his season so far.

A flurry of missed chances and a team that doesn’t play like one, Chelsea fans are growing tired of Pochettino. Supporters so used to hiring and firing bringing success, patience and optimism is running thin. Without European football, the Blues are stuck in the bottom half of the Premier League table and don’t look like lifting themselves up any time soon.

So, were Chelsea’s board to listen to the fans and pull the trigger, who could come in to replace Pochettino?


Next permanent Chelsea manager Sky Bet
Jose Mourinho 6/1
Roberto De Zerbi 6/1
Michel Sanchez 8/1
Ruben Amorim 8/1
Zinedine Zidane 1/11
Xabi Alonso 12/1
Xavi Hernandez 12/1
Arne Slot 14/1
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Jose Mourinho

The Re-Return. Jose Mourinho’s first spell at Chelsea was fantastic, and was the foundation on which the club’s success over the past 20 years has been built. Mourinho’s second spell brought more trophies but certainly papered over some cracks, that still haven’t been filled. But it also ended in a rough way, with the wheels falling off as season three started.

Third time’s the charm? Mourinho is not the same manager he was 20 years ago when he first rocked up to Stamford Bridge, dubbing himself the Special One. Most recently, Mourinho spent three years in Italy with Roma and there he fully embraced the back three — either with a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-2-1. At Chelsea, it would likely be the latter.

At the moment, it feels like a back three is what Chelsea really need. It would bring some defensive stability, help deal with some of their weaknesses at the back, and allow them control in building from the bottom up. In this back three, Levi Colwill is the best bet for the middle, having played there when Pochettino has lined up that way this season. On the right, Axel Disasi has proven himself a solid defender, while Benoit Badiashile will likely get the other spot.

At wing-back, when fit Reece James will certainly start on the right, with Ben Chilwell on the left. When the pair were both in peak condition, Chelsea were flying under Thomas Tuchel. Their injury problems are one of the main factors in Chelsea’s downfall. In the middle, you can’t not start Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo, and someone will get the best out of that pairing. Surely.

With the narrow 3-4-2-1, Conor Gallagher and Cole Palmer would work as double No.10s, providing support for Christopher Nkunku — or any new striker that Chelsea sign. In this system, Palmer and Nkunku would be the more attacking players, while Gallagher helps with the press.

 

Roberto De Zerbi

Chelsea’s quest to become Brighton 2.0 could continue with the Blues nicking their manager for the second time. Graham Potter didn’t quite work at Chelsea, but Roberto De Zerbi might be different.

The Italian carried on the work started by Potter at Brighton to lead the Seagulls to the Europa League, and then the last 16 of the competition — topping their group ahead of Marseille, Ajax and AEK Athens.

De Zerbi plays the kind of football Chelsea’s board wants, attacking and possession-based, and it’s in a system that the Blues already play, a 4-2-3-1. So on paper, Chelsea would hope this is a straightforward transition. The Italian also likes inverted wingers, which would work at Chelsea with Cole Palmer on the right and Raheem Sterling on the left. He has also used Danny Welbeck as a deeper striker, a role that could be taken by Nkunku with Nicolas Jackson leading the line. Noni Madueke also likes to cut in onto his stronger foot, and maybe De Zerbi could get the best out of him and Mykhaylo Mudryk.

But, the downside to De Zerbi’s style of play is that the defence is often found lacking. And that’s been another of Chelsea’s problems. If you struggle to score, you have to be able to keep opponents out.

Michel

The least-known name high up on the list of favourites, Michel is the man behind Girona’s La Liga ride this season. The Spaniard took charge of Girona in July 2021 when they were in the Spanish second tier, leading the club to promotion in his first season via the play-offs.

Girona then finished a healthy 10th in their first campaign back in the top flight — making their best-ever finish in La Liga. But this season has been fantastic. Girona look well on their way to finishing in the top four, only losing three times in the league, with two of those coming against Real Madrid.

A bit like De Zerbi at Brighton, Michel’s Girona are all about the goals. They’re the highest scorers in La Liga this season, scoring 57 so far, but it has come at the expense of their defence. Only two teams have conceded more in the top half of the La Liga table than Girona’s 32, and they’ve let in at least two goals in nine different games.

Michel’s play is all about the wings, with the full-backs and wingers combining to get Girona up the pitch — switching up their positions on the flanks. For this, combinations of James/Gusto and Madueke, or Chilwell and Sterling would work very well — and Palmer through the middle.  Cucurella would be another good left-back option, but there will be no chance of Levi Colwill or Axel Disasi played at full-back.

Ruben Amorim

Chelsea have been linked with Ruben Amorim for a while now, and he may be the most-wanted replacement in the eyes of Chelsea fans. The problem is, a lot of teams want him. In almost four years at Sporting CP, Amorim has ended the club’s 19-year league title drought and led them back to the Champions League. Although it hasn’t been perfect, Sporting CP are a completely new team now, and are challenging for the title once more.

Amorim has fairly religiously stuck to a back three since taking over at Sporting CP, but he uses more of a 3-4-3, with the front three being fluid. Chelsea do have players capable of playing with fluidity in attack, in Sterling, Palmer and Jackson– all three can rotate across the front line. The wing-backs are also very important to Amorim, which would bring the partnership of James and Chilwell back.

There is a lot of passing among the centre-backs, who need to be good on the ball, being key to the way Amorim plays. So Colwill will come in, but Disasi may lose out, not being as comfortable in passing as he is defending. That may give Thiago Silva a way back into the team, though he does slow down the play a bit too much at times.

It may also see Robert Sanchez back in the fold, a goalkeeper preferred for his passing, even though Djordje Petrovic has done nothing wrong since coming into the team.

Sam Allardyce

Now this isn’t a name on the list of favourites, but Sam Allardyce has thrown his hat into the ring.

“Oh yes, I’d fly back from Dubai tomorrow for that – get me there!” Allardyce said when asked by TalkSport if he’d like to take charge of Chelsea.

His first job? “Sort the defence out. It’s the worst defending I’ve seen in the Premier League for a long, long time.

“People see that as a negative punt. There’s a big thing on Monday Night Football about Manchester United and how many shots they’ve conceded and then looking at the top teams like Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal.

“They have the best defensive records. It’s a simple mathematical equation. You win the league if you have the best defence not the best attack.

“The best attack gives you the opportunity to get the points in the end but the defensive side of it wins you the league. The defending has been ignored for many years now and I’ve never seen such bad defending for a long time.”

Despite being known for his defensive approaches, Allardyce sets up his bus in a back four. In a 4-3-3, Allardyce may even push the boat out and bring James into the defensive midfield spot, for his passing range and defensive stature. He’d drop into a back five when defending, with Gusto on the right. Conor Gallagher would likely be one of the other midfielders for his pressing game, while Fernandez brings the rare flair.

Although he doesn’t feel like an Allardyce player, Big Sam has spoken highly of Palmer, so he’d be on the wing with Jackson and Nkunku joining him. It’s boring that the front three is pretty much always the same, but Chelsea’s options are really that thin.