Chelsea confident Jose Mourinho will replace Rafael Benitez

Former coach expected to leave Real Madrid in the summer

Chelsea are more hopeful than ever that Jose Mourinho can be lured back for a second spell in charge at Stamford Bridge as permanent manager next season.

The club have made Mourinho their new first-choice target to take charge next season after Pep Guardiola snubbed them in favour of a switch to Bayern Munich last month, report The Evening Standard.

Current interim first-team coach Rafael Benitez, who replaced Roberto di Matteo on a short-term contract in November, is not expected to be in the running as he boasts the worst record of any coach in the Roman Abramovich era.

Mourinho has been linked with a return to the west London club almost every season since he was sacked by them in 2007 after three impressive years in charge and he has always spoken of a desire to return.

The 50-year-old, who is certain to leave Real Madrid in the summer, won five major trophies during his time at the helm, including back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006.

Mourinho has been revered by the players and the fans ever since, although relations with Abramovich soured during the final 18 months of his tenure and his departure became inevitable. However, the duo have been on good terms for some time now and the Chelsea hierarchy privately believe that Mourinho can be lured back.

The Portuguese is willing to listen to offers, although he will also be a target for Paris St-Germain and Manchester City should they remove Carlo Ancelotti or Roberto Mancini respectively at the end of the season.

Other contenders for the Chelsea post include Jurgen Klopp, Diego Simeone, David Moyes, Gustavo Poyet and Gianfranco Zola, while former manager Guus Hiddink continues to be linked. 

One of the stumbling blocks regarding Mourinho has always been the fact that Abramovich paid the former Porto coach around £18m in compensation when he was fired and the Russian would be admitting to making an expensive mistake. That is no longer the issue but the power struggle of who makes the key decisions at the club will have to be addressed.

Mourinho will want to be in complete control of team affairs from top to bottom but Abramovich has a number of key advisors, including technical director Michael Emenalo.

It is likely the latter would have to go for Mourinho to come back, although the Nigerian is in a vulnerable position anyway due to the inconsistent form of the squad this season.

This campaign has been a major disappointment and the club will want a strong coach like Mourinho to revive their fortunes.

Chelsea spent £80m on the squad that won the Champions League last summer but they crashed out of the group stages for the first time in their history this season and trail leaders Manchester United by 16 points in the title race. They have also lost the Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup and were beaten by Swansea in the Capital One Cup semi-final.

Chelsea are in a battle to finish in the top four after picking up just eight points from six games, while their only hopes of a trophy lie in the FA Cup, where they face a fourth-round replay against Brentford, and the Europa League, where they play Sparta Prague in the last 32.

After leaving Chelsea, Mourinho has confirmed his status as one of the best coach’s in the game. He won the treble at Inter Milan in 2010 and toppled Barcelona last season to claim Real’s first title for four years.

He still has hopes of winning the Champions League with them this term and faces Manchester United in the last 16, however relations have soured with the players and the board and Mourinho is looking forward to his next challenge. Meanwhile, Benitez is adamant Chelsea’s slump in form is not because the players have an attitude problem.

Chelsea conceded another late goal at Newcastle on Saturday to lose 3-2, putting their hopes of finishing in the top four at risk. It is the fourth time in the last six League games that Chelsea have paid the price for slack defending in the closing stages after losing 1-0 to QPR and letting two-goal leads slip against Southampton and Reading to only get a point.

When asked after the game if he was happy with the attitude of the players at the moment, Benitez told Chelsea TV: “It is fine. You can’t react the way we did in the second half with a bad attitude. The attitude is good but we have to learn. It’s not just about showing this attitude and character, it’s also to know what to do during the game.

“We have to manage the game better when we are leading — you can’t lose this advantage.

“We couldn’t score the third goal but you have to control the game. It is something we have to learn. We have to be pushing and keep the shape of the team.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game