Guus Hiddink has emerged as the odds-on favourite to take the role of Chelsea caretaker manager following the club's axing of Jose Mourinho on Thursday (17 December). Former Tottenham Hotspur boss Juande Ramos and ex-Liverpool hotseat occupant Brendan Rodgers complete the slate for bookies in the immediate aftermath of the West London side's announcement.
Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone are reportedly Roman Abramovich's first two choices for the role following the end of the Special One's second reign. However, with the pair under contract at Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid respectively, their arrivals will have to wait until at least the summer, and the club are now looking for an interim figure to hold the reins until the end of the season.
Whoever takes the role will need to turn around the Blues' current struggle, with the club just one point away from relegation, suffering nine defeats in Mourinho's first 16 league encounters of the campaign.
Guus Hiddink (1/5 with Paddy Power)
Hiddink has been touted as a possible candidate to replace Mourinho since the Chelsea dream started to unravel earlier this season. The Dutch boss is now odds-on favourite to be the chosen one, after Mourinho left by apparent mutual consent.
The 69-year-old already had a spell as interim boss at Stamford Bridge in 2009, combining the role with his position as manager of Russia following the dismissal of Luiz Felipe Scolari in February of that year. He turned the club's dismal situation around that season as well, leading them to the FA Cup, reaching the Champions League semi-final and finishing the season in third place.
Hiddink has had a mixed record since then, enjoying turbulent spells with Russia, Turkey and the Netherlands while also bracing a short spell at brief big-spenders Anzhi Makhachkala. He replaced Louis van Gaal as Dutch national coach in 2014, but was sacked last summer as the Netherlands' Euro 2016 campaign went off the rails.
Juande Ramos (3/1 with Paddy Power)
The Times reported on Wednesday that former Spurs and Real Madrid manager Juande Ramos was being consider as a shock replacement for Mourinho – with Spanish newspaper AS claiming that his agent had flown in to London to discuss a potential arrival at the club.
The Spaniard is second favourite to take the role in a move that has echoes of Abramovich's 2012 appointment of Rafa Benitez to replace
The Spaniard has therefore become the second odds-on favourite to take over Mourinho in a move that looks similar to the one made in 2012 when Abramovich appoint Rafa Benitez to replace Roberto Di Matteo.
Ramos, like Benitez, would probably be an unpopular choice for Chelsea fans, with most remembering him for his spell at London rivals Spurs. Although he won the Carling Cup in the 2007/08 season, he was fired after an appalling start to the following campaign.
Before his move to Tottenham though he garnered a big reputation in Spain with Sevilla, winning the UEFA Cup – now known as the Europa League – in successive years. He also brought home the Copa del Rey, the Uefa Super Cup and the Supercopa de Espana.
He was linked with the Real Sociedad job after David Moyes's dismissal earlier this season, having been without a team since he left Dnipro in 2014 due to the political unrest in Ukraine. He had previously led them to their highest-ever league position, third, in 2013, securing a place in the third round of the Champions League for the first time.
Brendan Rodgers (10/1 with Paddy Power)
The former Liverpool and Swansea manager is also a free agent after the Reds sacked him earlier this season. Having spent time as a coach at Chelsea alongside Mourinho during his first spell at the club, the bookies make him third favourite to take the position.
Mourinho recruited Rodgers from Reading in 2004, making him head youth coach before promoting him to reserve team manager two years later. Rodgers went on to establish himself at Watford and Reading before an impressive spell at the helm of Swansea City. He took the Welsh side to the Premier League before earning a big move to Liverpool in 2012 following the departure of Kenny Dalglish.