Next Chelsea Manager Odds: The Lowdown On The Main Contenders

Champions League-winning manager Roberto Di Matteo was sacked by Chelsea this morning, after a run of one win from eight games.

The Italian's shock departure has been greeted with mass outcry in the past few hours, but while Chelsea fans once more gasp at their chairman's brutal axe-wielding ways, we now take a look at the likely identity of the next manager to be hired - and no doubt fired before too long - at Stamford Bridge.

Here's our countdown of the top three contenders to be in charge on January 1st 2013, and the odds they're currently trading at...

Harry Redknapp at 5.00:

Good ol' 'Arry has become so bored with spending time at his million pound home on the south coast, that he's actually been choosing to hang around with Gary Lineker and Alan Hansen on a Saturday - seriously, who would choose to do that? This means two things: his Missus is keen to ship him out of the house, and he's desperate for a new job.

As such, Harry's representatives appear to have been attempting to subtly blackmail QPR into hiring the former Spurs manager, who is definitely NOT a wheeler dealer.

In fact, as recently as last night, they dangled a bogus carrott, revealing news that Redknapp had been approached by the Ukranian FA to take over their national team. In reality, this was a device used solely to make everyone aware he wants a job quick-sharp - Harry was never going to take the Ukraine position.

But it does tell us he'd be at Cobham, Chelsea's training ground, quicker than you can say 'Triffic', should Roman Abramovich call.

There's history here. Abramovich is said to have been considering appointing Harry before plumping for Andre Villas-Boas in the summer of 2011. There's no doubt the ex Hammer would steady the ship and enjoy indulging the likes of fellow East Londoner John Terry, and his nephew Frank Lampard.

That said, with Mark Hughes teetering on the edge at Loftus Road, Harry is far more likely to take over at QPR before the new year, which he is 1.95 favourite to do.

Pep Guardiola at 4.50:

Although Roman Abramovich seldom ever speaks publicly to, well, anybody, it is pretty much common knowledge that his preferred long-term head coach is this former Barcelona boss. But Guardiola is currently enjoying a sabbatical with his family in New York, where he's living the high-life, attending glitzy events like the Ryder Cup, drinking great coffee and not having to worry about a Roman sword hanging over him.

Abramovich is also known to be a huge fan of the way Barcelona play football; of their verve and free-flowing attacking ethos. Given the recent signings of Mata, Luiz, Hazard, Oscar and Marin, the Blues' new generation are perfectly poised to be schooled in Guardiola's methods. 

But, Pep always said he wanted at least a year away from the game. Whether he'd cut short his hiatus for the lure of revolutionising the European Champions is open to debate. What's more likely is that he'll arrive at the Bridge next summer, meaning the gaffer on January 1st 2013 could well be a temporary one... 

Rafael Benitez at 1.65:

All of which brings us to this man. The jolly Spaniard has been out of work since 2010, but has been living in England with his wife and kids throughout. It was reported that Chelsea had approached Benitez last time they needed a caretaker - this time last year, in fact.

On that occasion he is said to have turned down Abramovich's PA's advances, but this time Roman has apparently called Rafa personally. This could serve as a no strings pathway back to the top of European football for the forgotten Champons League specialist, and a nice little pay day to boot.

It's also worth noting that given the amount of times his Liverpool side tamed the Mourinho machine of Chelsea in the mid-late Noughties, the Blues' old guard will already have a level of repsect for Benitez and his methods.

If reports from Rafa's biographer are to be believed this morning, then his temporary contract until May is all but signed, in which case his odds of 1.65 are worth considering. You might have to pounce quick, though. Abramovich doesn't seem to have much time for patience in matters like these - Rafa could be in a CFC tracksuit by dusk.

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