Marco Van Basten
FOLLOWING the sacking of King Carlo, does Abramovich have an ace up his sleeve to be next Chelsea boss?
His next appointment to the hotseat will be Chelsea's seventh manager in eight years – a tally that is as stunning as it is embarrassing.
So who will it be? And, more importantly, how long will he last?
Any suggested interest in Harry Redknapp is laughable. Abramovich has a very clear idea of what a Chelsea manager looks like to him, and he doesn't look like Frank Lampard's Uncle 'Arry.
His ideal coach is: respected throughout Europe; charismatic; and foreign. And, since the departure of, Jose Mourinho, you can add not-as-volatile-as-a-Mentos-and-cola-cocktail to the list.
But most importantly, Abramovich believes that his best chance of getting his hands on the coveted Champions League is to appoint a man who has already won it.
Mourinho's successful job application came in the form of the 90 minutes of the 2004 Champions League final. (Remember had Porto lost that final, Chelsea would certainly have appointed Monaco coach Didier Deschamps.)
Guus Hiddink, like Mourinho, won the European Cup with a deeply unfancied team (PSV). And Ancelotti won it four times: twice in boots, and twice in suits.
Ex-Chelsea bosses who didn't fit that bill (Avram Grant, who was essentially a caretaker; and Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was the biggest mistake by a top European club so far this century) were swiftly dispatched.
Which doesn't leave many potential applicants that match the person spec.
Pep Guardiola won't be coming to Chelsea any time soon; Alex Ferguson is more likely to pledge his allegiance to England than leave Old Trafford before retirement; and Rafa Benitez is so deeply despised by Chelsea fans that his appointment would probably provoke a full-scale riot.
Vincente del Bosque and Otto Hitzfield are too old; and Brian Clough is too dead (though still more likely to get the gig this time around that Mourinho).
Frank Rijkaard has to be a possibility: though his present berth at Galatasaray doesn't exactly set him aside as one of Europe's top coaches.
And that's it.
Which is why Abramovich is so keen to bring back Hiddink. The Russian developed a strong bond with the Dutchman when he came in as fire-fighting caretaker. Hiddink turned up, did a job extremely well, caused absolutely no complications, and left on incredibly good terms. Abramovich likes that fact that he is a man of honour: so much that he turned down a salary that dwarfed the one the Russian national team were giving him, to honour his contract.
And Hiddink has remained as an on-call expert, offering unpaid consultancy to Abramovich.
But at 64, he is certainly looking towards retirement as a full-time tracksuit manager (he said as much when he was at Chelsea). So if Chelsea were to make him Director of Football, he could keep the owner off the back of a younger coach, while imparting his skill and experience. It's a handy way of getting around the fact that Chelsea have now sacked so many coaches, there's nobody left at the top-end to employ.
Who, then, would be this youngster? Andre Villas Boas of Porto has been mentioned: though even considering his prodigious talents, at just 33 years old he'd have a job bossing John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba about. (Especially as, under Mourinho, Villas Boas was one of the lads at Chelsea – it's a difficult transition to make).
Gianfranco Zola would please the fans: but his limited management experience at West Ham seems to back-up the theory that he might just be a little bit to nice for the top job.
Which leaves Marco van Basten. The Dutchman (pictured) is not very high-up the list of a lot of Chelsea fans. He has achieved little in management (though won two European Cups on the pitch); is known by some for spending too much on players that are too average (not that he'll be buying any players for Chelsea); and recently put the boot in to both Chelsea and Fernando Torres in his part time role as a TV pundit.
But Chelsea really are between a rock and a hard place; and Van Basten is available. In his tireless pursuit of the Champions League, Abramovich has already played almost every card in the pack. The next one had better be a winner; or only the jokers will be left.