Deserted Stamford Bridge by Chris 07
The Brazilian, appointed barely seven months ago, inherited an aging squad and, with little money from the previously profligate owner Roman Abramovich to splash around, struggled to acquire the talent necessary for a serious Premier League challenge. Having forfeiting Chelsea's four-year undefeated home record last year, he leaves the club seven points behind leaders Manchester United, with a daunting run of fixtures including FA Cup and Champions League ties over the next fortnight. The Chelsea brass are evidently keen to get a new gaffer in sharpish, though given the upcoming high-pressure matches, their decision to install Ray Wilkins as caretaker manager is baffling. Leading names for Scolari's replacement include Gianfranco Zola and Guus Hiddink, which represents a straight choice between nostalgia and experience, while Frank Rijkaard, Didier Deschamps and, improbably, Sven-Goran Eriksson are also being mentioned by poker-faced bookies.
Scolari, who loses his job on the same day that Portsmouth did away with Tony Adams, is entitled to feel aggrieved, given that he was afforded neither the time nor the money to mould the team he wanted. Yet Premier League managers have evolved into a species that, to quote Borges, live "in the eternity of the instant". Modern-day Chelsea perhaps exemplify this, interested in immediate success and unwilling to compromise. While this was achieved under Mourinho, it was done via financial expenditure that successive manager's have not been granted: Abramovich's dwindling fortune, and perhaps his own diminishing interest in the club, have curtailed lavish purchases.
For the Guardian's Paul Doyle, the man who comes out of this decision best is Steve Clarke, assistant manager at Chelsea under Mourinho and Grant who joined West Ham last September. While the Irons have developed into a "slick and well-drilled side" under Clarke's watch, the Blues have been wayward, particularly in training, without his input. Should Chelsea attempt to pinch West Ham's management team, where will his priorities lie? And would Gianfranco Zola be able to resist what is fast becoming the poisoned chalice of the Premier League?