Chelsea sack Luiz Felipe Scolari

Monday 09 February 2009 17:20 GMT

Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke are favourites to become the dream managerial duo at Chelsea after the club announced the sacking of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The Brazilian coach was dismissed by the Blues today after just seven months in the Stamford Bridge hot- seat.

Scolari paid the price for a season in which Chelsea have dropped 16 home points, were bundled out of the Carling Cup by Coca-Cola championship side Burnley and slipped to fourth in the Barclays Premier League.

A statement issued by Chelsea confirmed his departure: "Luiz Felipe Scolari has been dismissed as manager of Chelsea Football Club today (Monday) with immediate effect.

"The Chelsea board would like to place on record our gratitude for his time as manager. Felipe has brought many positives to the club since he joined and we all feel a sense of sadness that our relationship has ended so soon.

"Unfortunately the results and performances of the team appeared to be deteriorating at a key time in the season.

"In order to maintain a challenge for the trophies we are still competing for we felt the only option was to make the change now.

"The search for a new manager has already started and we hope to have someone in place as soon as possible.

"While that continues Assistant Coach Ray Wilkins will take charge of the team on a temporary basis."

Scolari, looked increasingly like a man out of his depth in the Premier League and Saturday's goalless draw with Hull only highlighted the Brazilian's inability to get the best out of his squad.

'Big Phil' was taunted with chants of 'You don't know what you're doing' by fans who also booed the players off the pitch at the final whistle.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had pointed to Chelsea's ageing squad at the start of the campaign but the problems ran deeper than that.

After a flying start to their league season under Scolari, including nine straight away wins, the team's confidence evaporated to such an extent that they only just overcame Southend in the FA Cup.

The Brazilian's pedigree was undeniable at international level - but the consensus of opinion was that the 60-year-old had been out of league football too long and found himself unable to cope with the English game.

Scolari generally under-achieved when it came to tactics and his insistence on a 4-3-3 formation was ultimately responsible for his downfall.

His treatment of a clearly demotivated Didier Drogba was also baffling during a period when the Ivorian's pace and power would surely have been preferable to the languid efforts of the league's top scorer Nicolas Anelka.

But perhaps the biggest clanger dropped by Chelsea this season was the decision to allow assistant coach Clarke to leave for West Ham last September.

No wonder that much of the talk among Chelsea fans already revolves around the dream ticket of Zola and Clarke.

The message on banners unfurled at Stamford Bridge on Saturday demanded the end of Scolari's reign and the appointment of Zola and Clarke.

Chelsea have now met one half of the request, but prising the duo from West Ham will be difficult.

Zola, whose side narrowly lost to Manchester United on Sunday, insists he has no intention of walking out on the club that has provided him with a chance to manage in the English top flight.

But Chelsea may well test that resolve in the coming days as they look to appoint what will be their third manager since Jose Mourinho was axed in September 2007.

Ahead of West Ham's match against Manchester United, Zola maintained he was committed to his role at Upton Park.

The Italian's lawyer, Fulvio Marrucco, released a statement insisting no approach had been made from Chelsea.

"At the moment we know nothing about the link between Gianfranco Zola and the vacant position at Chelsea," Marrucco said in a statement reported on Sky Sports.

"Gianfranco is very happy at West Ham and still thanks them for giving him the opportunity to be a coach in the Premier League.

"It is very difficult to say if anything will happen, but Chelsea is a special place for Gianfranco Zola."

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