Chelsea began their hunt for a successor to Luiz Felipe Scolari on Tuesday with Guus Hiddink and former boss Avram Grant the early favorites to replace the sacked Brazilian.
Russia coach Hiddink was odds-on with most English bookmakers with Grant also reported to be in the running, just eight months after departing Stamford Bridge following Chelsea’s defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League final. Dutchman Hiddink has an impeccable record in club and international football and his agent Cees van Nieuwenhuizen told BBC Radio Tuesday that he would be open to an offer from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. “I think because of the personal relationship he has with Mr Abramovich he will definitely talk to him and listen to him but I think Mr Abramovich realizes he also he has not finished his job (with Russia),” he said. “He is focused on his job with Russia, he is with the team on a training camp in Turkey and he is looking forward to qualifying with Russia for the World Cup.” Grant, who has also been linked with the Portsmouth vacancy following the earlier sacking of Tony Adams on Monday, took charge after the departure of Jose Mourinhio at the start of last season and led Chelsea to second place in the Premier League and the finals of the League Cup and Champions League. The 53-year-old is a personal friend of Abramovich and could be installed on a caretaker basis until the end of the season. Other names linked with the job include former Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard, AC Milan’s Carlos Ancelotti, former Chelsea favorites Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo and inevitably Mourinho, who is in charge at Inter Milan. Scolari went on Monday after a string of indifferent results which have left Chelsea in fourth place in the Premier League, but in the last 16 of the Champions League and fifth round of the FA Cup. You say: Were Chelsea right to dismiss Scolari Who should replace him “Unfortunately the results and performances of the team appeared to be deteriorating at a key time in the season,” said a statement on the club’s official Web site.
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“In order to maintain a challenge for the trophies we are still competing for we felt the only option was to make the change now. “The search for a new manager has already started and we hope to have someone in place as soon as possible. “While that continues assistant coach Ray Wilkins will take charge of the team on a temporary basis.” The 60-year-old Scolari, who won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil before enjoying success with the Portugal national team, was the fourth manager of the Abramovich era, following Claudio Ranieri, Mourinho and Grant. Ranieri, now Juventus coach, will take his side to Stamford Bridge for the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, a match that takes on added significance with Chelsea all but out of the running in the Premier League. But Ranieri sees Scolari’s sacking as a bad omen for his team. “We could have done without this change,” Ranieri told Press Association. “Now the players will have an excuse and I, who had studied Scolari’s team by memory, will have to start from the beginning. “It will be another Chelsea and I will only have two weeks to get to know it.” Chelsea will hope to have a new coach installed before their FA Cup tie at second-flight Watford on Saturday. A week later they go to Aston Villa, currently a place above them in the league, before the Juventus clash.