Stoke City boss Mark Hughes is high up on Chelsea’s list of possible replacements for interim boss Guus Hiddink, according to reports.
The Guardian have reported that Hughes, a former Chelsea player, will be considered by the Chelsea hierarchy to replace Hiddink, who was only ever intended to be a short-term fix at Stamford Bridge.
Dutchman Hiddink has steadied the ship after a run of eight matches without defeat since he took over the reins, but the Blues, who shocked Arsenal with a 1-0 win on Sunday, remain in 13th spot but more importantly 12 points behind fourth place.
It looks distinctly like Chelsea will miss out on Champions League football and that could well leave Chelsea’s managerial options limited with their top targets Diego Simeone, Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri unlikely to want to come to the capital without the lure of European football.
Atletico Madrid boss Simeone is contracted until 2020, Juve chief Allegri has a deal in Turin until 2017, while Conte is in charge of the Italian national side and while all three are certainly not off Chelsea’s radar, it’s believed the Blues will not be able to lure one of the trio to the Bridge.
Departing Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola is seemingly out of reach with Manchester United and Manchester City facing off for the former Barcelona coach, leaving Chelsea, most probably, looking at hiring a British coach and Hughes looks to be at the top of the list.
The 52-year-old has transformed Stoke’s playing style and he has them in position to make their highest ever finish in the Premier League after finishing ninth in the last two seasons. Hughes, who spent three years as a player at Chelsea in the 1990s, has been in club management for nine years, as well as spending time at the helm as Wales manager.
Hughes was instrumental in Man City’s development before he was harshly axed in December 2009 and at Stoke he has reached the League Cup semi-final, losing this week to Liverpool, and overseen the introduction of several ball-playing stars at The Britannia.
Although Roman Abramovich is notoriously a closed book and rarely confides in anyone over his tragets, the former Manchester United forward is believed to be well respected by the Chelsea board and seen as a preferential candidate to Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe and Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri, whom The Telegraph have linked to the post.