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.”

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home