Maurizio Sarri could be sacked as manager of Chelsea
Choruses of ’You don’t know what you’re doing’ and ‘f**k Sarri-ball’ rang out among the Stamford Bridge faithful as they were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United in the FA Cup on Monday night.
And with this latest defeat coming just over a week after their 6-0 humbling by Manchester City in the Premier League, Sarri looks to be on borrowed time.
Surely, it is a question of when not if ruthless owner Roman Abramovich swings his axe in the direction of the Italian.
Despite Sarri’s reputation as one of the most progressive coaches on the continent, his players are clearly struggling to adapt to his style and bigger names than him have come and gone under Abramovich’s watch.
So if he joins the long line of managers including Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo to have been sacked midway through the season, just who could replace him?
Here, Express Sport explores three they might turn to in their time of need.
Could Jose Mourinho return to Chelsea for a third spell
When you have employed as many managers as Chelsea have in 16 years under Abramovich – 11 if you include interim bosses – it is inevitable that certain names will crop up more than once.
And it is not out of the question that Mourinho will take over for a third spell at the club.
His appointment would probably spilt the fans, although one suspects the slight majority would fall into the pro-Mourinho camp.
Mourinho is the most successful manager in the club’s history
The Portuguese left under a cloud during his second stint but it was the players – accused of downing tools – who received the brunt of the criticism.
Many still remember him fondly. After all, with three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and three League Cups as Blues boss, Mourinho is the most successful manager in the history of the club.
His reputation might be at its lowest ebb after his time at Manchester United ended with him leading them to their worst-ever start to a Premier League season.
But he has a point to prove and has made no secret of his desire to return to football management if the right job comes up.
Would another crack at Chelsea be too good for him to turn down?
Zidane’s appointment would probably appease the Blues fans
As far as names go, they do not come much bigger than the France legend.
Perhaps the best player of his generation, Zidane has since proved he can mix it with the best in the business as a manager after leading Real Madrid to an historic three Champions League crowns in succession.
Zidane has been out of work since leaving the Bernabeu at the end of last season and is inevitably linked with every top job that becomes available.
Zidane led Real Madrid to three Champions League trophies in a row
United were understood to be interested in taking him to Old Trafford before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s heroics since taking over from Mourinho.
The Norwegian now looks certain to get the job full-time giving Chelsea a free run at Zidane.
However, they might need to act quickly as a number of big European clubs could be in the hunt for a new man at the end of the current campaign.
Niko Kovac is looking vulnerable at Bayern Munich and could pay with his job if they fail to win the Bundesliga, while Inter Milan are said to be considering the future of Luciano Spalletti.
And it is not inconceivable to think he could end up at Real when Santiago Solari inevitably leaves the Spanish giants.
But if they could lure him to west London, the Chelsea fans would surely welcome his appointment, although a lack of Premier League experience might count against him with Abramovich given the problems the club have had with the likes of Sarri, Scolari and Villas-Boas.
He would not be inheriting a squad littered with stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, and whether he could manage on with such obvious flaws would make for interesting viewing.
However, he might be just the man to get the best out of Eden Hazard and he could even be a big enough name to convince the Belgian to stay.
Brendan Rodgers would jump at the chance to leave Celtic and join Chelsea
There is no doubt that appointing Rodgers would be a huge risk – but if we take a closer look at the Chelsea squad then Rodgers begins to look like a decent fit.
Chelsea’s attacking approach under Sarri is simply not working. With 45 goals in the Premier League this term, they have been comfortably outscored by every other team in the top six.
Liverpool were prolific during Rodgers’ time at Anfield
Chelsea are in desperate need of something similar and have the fast players out wide that Rodgers’ style relies heavily upon.
The former Blues youth coach also has a history of blooding young players wherever he has been.
Raheem Sterling is perhaps his biggest success and Chelsea fans would love it if he could work similar magic with Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is inexplicably still struggling to force his way into Sarri’s plans.
Rodgers would undoubtedly jump at the chance to leave Celtic and return to England.
Despite winning two league titles and five domestic cups in his time in Scotland, he still has a point to prove in the Premier League and could come back demanding a top job with a sack-full of trophies in tow as proof of his ability.