Jose Mourinho is already joking that there are "11 managers on the list" to succeed him at Chelsea and yesterday he delivered a blunt message for any of them with ambitions to take over at Stamford Bridge. "I think it will be difficult to be a manager after me at any club," he said. "I don't recommend it."
The gallows humour yesterday should really have been saved for a limp Nottingham Forest side, little more than an inconvenient fly swatted away from the ear of the football goliath that resides at Stamford Bridge. This was serene progress for Mourinho into the FA Cup fifth round but, as ever at Chelsea, the football was scarcely more than a sideshow to the story of the manager's future.
Even before goals from Andrei Shevchenko, Didier Drogba and John Obi Mikel had decided this game before the half-time tea, Mourinho was explaining the continued absence of Roman Abramovich to Gary Lineker live on the BBC. After the game, he brushed off reports that the club's owner has a shortlist of potential successors.
"I know the list is very big, almost 11 or 12 managers, but I have no problems," Mourinho said. "I think I have coped well with the situation, the players can be my witnesses that I am the same guy, working well. Even if that list becomes bigger, it doesn't bother me. I just want to win matches and nothing else.
"I'm staying, I have a contract, which is important, I'm the manager today and I am the manager until the end of the season. I believe I'll be manager until 2010."
He shrugged off the absence of Abramovich and said that the Russian "did not need to give an explanation", adding that he would always be welcome in the dressing room. After £400m of investment, Abramovich might be entitled to think that he does not need an invite to talk to the coaches and players he pays so handsomely.
"He is the owner and he can do what he wants and go where he needs to be," Mourinho said. "His business life is even more complicated than I know. He pays me and Peter Kenyon quite a lot to run the club when he is not around. He is always welcome in our dressing room and when he is not around it is because he had other things to do."
As a newcomer to English football, Abramovich would have been hard-pressed to comprehend that yesterday's opponents from League One had twice won the European Cup that he craves so much. The away fans waved inflatable versions of the trophy, although history was all they had to savour yesterday. Colin Calderwood's hard work was undone by a team who seemed to be suffering from stage fright.
The possession statistics at half-time were a humiliating 81 per cent in Chelsea's favour and even that seemed generous to Forest, who fell behind to an indelicate finish by Shevchenko that bounced off the defender John Curtis before rolling in. Even the Chelsea stadium announcer took some persuading that the £31m man should be credited with the goal.
There was cutting criticism for Shevchenko from another Milan old boy, the former Chelsea defender Marcel Desailly, who said on the BBC that the Ukrainian "is not the player he once was and it will be difficult for him to get back". Alan Hansen chipped in, saying that "Father Time had caught up with Shevchenko". And that is after he has scored three goals in the last two games.
On the bench, Mourinho had a fit of laughter when, in the latter stages, Shevchenko was treated to a League One-style tackle from Julian Bennett, the bad-tempered Forest left-back who had put himself about. The sight of Shevchenko writhing on the floor in pain while his manager chuckled was instructive. "I told Steve Clarke that the boy would kill Sheva and he did it before I finished speaking," Mourinho said, "so, yes, I found it funny."
Mourinho was lukewarm about Shevchenko's performance, and he said that he did not expect to make another signing before the transfer window closes on Wednesday night. John Terry will not be back for that night's match against Blackburn Rovers but Mourinho said he hoped his captain would return in time for the next Premiership game against Charlton.
Drogba curled in an excellent free-kick from the left channel on 19 minutes to beat the Forest goalkeeper Paul Smith at his near post. Mikel poked home the third from close range as the Forest defence appeared to self-destruct.
A banner in the away end read: "Shevchenko £31m. Wright-Phillips £21m. Two European Cups: priceless." Abramovich would agree, he is still funding the quest for his.
Goals: Shevchenko (9) 1-0; Drogba (19) 2-0; Mikel (45) 3-0.
Chelsea (4-3-1-2): Cech; Geremi, Carvalho, Essien, Bridge; Wright-Phillips (Morais, 82), Diarra, Lampard (Woods, 79); Mikel; Drogba (Kalou, 62), Shevchenko. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), A Cole.
Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Smith; Curtis, Breckin, Morgan, Bennett; Southall, Gary Holt, Perch (Dobie, 73), Grant Holt (Clingan, h-t); Tyson, Agogo (Lester, 73). Substitutes not used: Redmond (gk), McGugan.
Booked: Nottingham Forest Clingan.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).
Man of the match: Essien.
Attendance: 41,516.Reuse content