Zola favourite for Chelsea job

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The Independent Online

Following Chelsea's decision today to sack coach Luiz Felipe Scolari less than a year into his tenure, we take a look at the possible candidates to take over from the Brazilian at Stamford Bridge.

GUUS HIDDINK

The Dutchman, currently employed as Russia coach, was reportedly high on Chelsea's wish-list before they settled on Scolari in the summer. Regarded as one of the most astute tacticians in world football Hiddink's efforts in taking Russia to the semi-finals of Euro 2008 mark him as an obvious candidate for Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich. Unlike Scolari, the Dutchman has also made his name at club level in Europe having guided PSV Eindhoven to three Eredivisie titles as well as the semi-finals of the 2004-05 Champions League.

GIANFRANCO ZOLA

A legend during his playing days at Chelsea, Zola would be a hugely popular choice among the Stamford Bridge faithful. Despite his relative inexperience in club football he has forged a good reputation since taking over as manager at West Ham this season with former Blues assistant Steve Clarke by his side.

JOSE MOURINHO

Chelsea's most successful manager having led them to back-to-back league titles, the Portuguese is the most exalted of all Blues managers. Sacked at the start of last season, Mourinho has since stated he would one day like to return to management in England. A return to Stamford Bridge would, however, seem unlikely with an apparent falling out with Abramovich leading to his departure, while he remains contracted to Inter Milan - who currently lead Serie A by seven points.

ROBERTO MANCINI

The 44-year-old Italian was sacked by Inter Milan at the end of last season despite leading them to the past three Serie A titles. He remains a high-profile candidate despite remaining out of work and has history in England having played at Leicester at the start of the decade.

FRANK RIJKAARD

The former Barcelona boss has been out of work since leaving the Catalan club at the end of last season. During his five-year spell at the Nou Camp the 46-year-old led Barca to two league titles as well as Champions League success when they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the 2005-06 final.

ROBERTO DI MATTEO

Another former Blues fan favourite Di Matteo is best remembered for scoring the fastest FA Cup final goal as the Blues beat Middlesbrough 2-0 in 1997. He was named as manager of League One club MK Dons in the summer and has them on track for promotion in his first season with the team currently sitting second in the table.

AVRAM GRANT

The Israeli was replaced by Scolari in the summer after taking the Blues to their first Champions League final where they lost on penalties to Manchester United. His softly-spoken mentality, and the fact he succeeded Mourinho, meant Grant was never truly accepted by Blues fans.

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