Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Chelsea following a crisis board meeting on Wednesday. The official announcement was made on Thursday with the Blues now likely to follow their familiar pattern of employing an interim manager for the remainder of the season.
Bookmakers have installed Guus Hiddink as their favorite to succeed Mourinho. The former manager of the Dutch national team took over following the dismissal of Felipe Scolari in 2009 and led Chelsea to victory in the FA Cup final at Wembley. He also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League where Chelsea were defeated on the away goal rules by Barcelona after a stormy second leg at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea finished second in the Premier League that season and Hiddink proved very popular with both players and fans. Fans wanted him to stay on the following season but he had vowed to return to his coaching post in Russia and resisted the temptation to extend his stay at Chelsea.
Hiddink took over from Louis Van Gaal in charge of the Netherlands national team in March last year. Results were poor and he left his job in June this year, the team eventually failing to qualify for the European Championships.
Former Tottenham boss Juande Ramos has also been linked with Chelsea following reports that his agent was sighted in London. Ramos is currently out of work after leaving Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. Pep Guardiola is believed to be the number one target for Roman Abramovich but is unlikely to be available until next summer.
The former Barcelona boss is known to be considering a move away from Bayern Munich and has been linked with the London club in the past. It is understood that the Spaniard has already told the German Champions that he will not be renewing his contact which expires at the end of the season.
Other contenders include former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti who led them to the Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010. He was sacked despite finishing second the following season and is available after leaving Real Madrid.
The last time Chelsea employed an interim manager was in 2011-12 when Roberto Di Matteo famously led them to Champions League glory. He took over from Andre Villas-Boas and his side sensationally turned around a 3-1 first leg deficit to beat Napoli. Victories over Benfica and Barcelona followed before their penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich in the final. Di Matteo also led them to a 2-1 win over Liverpool in the final of the FA Cup.
Chelsea are still in the Champions League and, with a qualifying place in the Premiership virtually impossible, they will be hoping that lightning strikes twice.