Forget Pep, Could Chelsea's next manager be...

Mourinho Madrid

Are the stars aligning for a remarkable return to Chelsea for Jose Mourinho?

Rafa Benitez again repeated his belief that his stay at Chelsea will be a brief one, unlikely to be beyond the end of the season - And that was before his side blew the chance to become 'World Champions.'

He intimated that Roman Abramovich has a plan cooking to bring in somebody new next summer, with Pep Guardiola the top target.

Guardiola is reported to have his doubts about taking on a management role at Stamford Bridge. The Russian owner's hire and fire strategy is likely to have more chance of battering his reputation rather than enhancing that; highly rated management prospect and Europa League winner Andre Villas-Boas will be one of many who will testify to that.

Guardiola has other options too, with Manchester United and Arsenal both touted as destinations, and outside the Premier League, AC Milan are said to be determined to bring him in.

With Chelsea's chances Pep looking wishful rather than likely, there is another equally tempting option for them; Jose Mourinho.

It is looking increasingly likely that the 'Special One' is going to be available next season, his previous success at Real Madrid is unraveling fast. 

After a 2-2 draw with Espanyol over the weekend, Mourinho conceded the La Liga title, with his side 13 points behind bitter rivals Barcelona, who defeated second place Atletico Madrid.

His relationship with his superiors at the club is becoming increasingly fractious, and there are even reports he is beginning to lose the faith of key players in the Madrid dressing room.

Mourinho's future at the club rests partly on how the club perform in the Champions League, as it remains their best shot of silverware this season, but considering it is a trophy the club have not won for over a decade, it is hardly a safe bet.

Even if they do triumph, the odds would be on Mourinho walking away anyway, as he did at Porto and Inter Milan.

Mourinho's management options would be plentiful, and PSG are likely make a big play to bring him on board. The opportunity of becoming a champion in France and the challenge of helping a French team win Europe's most coveted trophy may appeal to Jose.

Taking over at Manchester United is a job which certainly tempts him, but whether Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to step aside just yet is questionable, so Chelsea should try to convince him to return.

Simply put, Mourinho is likely to be looking for a new job next summer, and Chelsea are likely to be looking for a new manager. It will be impossible for both to ignore each other surely?

There are complexities, Chelsea may just do it, but only if two things happen. (a) Mourinho will want to feel like first choice, and not second choice to Guardiola - So Chelsea would effectively have to end their pursuit of the Spaniard. (b) Roman will have to admit he made a mistake in sacking him. Whether there would need to be an apology in there too along with other assurances, is up to Mourinho's demands, but Abramovich may have to be prepared to offer one.

If those two things happen, Chelsea can get their man, and bring Mourinho back to create a new dynasty. And most supporters will agree it will be worth putting up with Benitez for a few months for.

Guardiola or Mourinho? Who would you prefer at Chelsea?

image: © apasciuto

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch