Premier League • England

Pochettino sack: Chelsea eye top Liverpool target as five-man shortlist is drawn up by worried Boehly

Mauricio Pochettino is under pressure at Chelsea with Michel Sanchez and Xabi Alonso contenders to replace him

Mauricio Pochettino is under pressure at Chelsea with Michel Sanchez and Xabi Alonso contenders to replace him

Chelsea chiefs have reportedly drawn up a shortlist of five candidates to replace Mauricio Pochettino as manager amid reports the Argentine could face the sack and that a worried Todd Boehly is considering the best course of action.

Pochettino was hired on a three-year deal over the summer to become the third permanent manager of the Boehly era in an attempt to get the Blues firing after the rug was pulled out from under Thomas Tuchel’s feet and his successor Graham Potter struggled to make an impact. But just seven months after his appointment at Chelsea, speculation that Pochettino too is facing the sack is starting to heat up.

Indeed, sources have confirmed to TEAMtalk that the Argentine is in serious of the sack and that Boehly and his fellow board members are set to discuss his future at Stamford Bridge over the course of the next few days.

An embarrassing 4-2 home defeat to Wolves on Sunday saw the Blues slip into the bottom half of the Premier League table, leaving the big-spending Londoners a massive 15 points adrift of the the top four places and with little room for error if they are to even claim a European place of any description next season.

If the manner of the defeat wasn’t bad enough, a worrying Ben Chilwell interview after the game summed up the mood at Stamford Bridge, while the wife of veteran defender Thiago Silva took to social media to suggest a change was needed before it was too late.

Pochettino has a mediocre 45% win record since taking charge, with just nine successes from 23 Premier League games to date underlining those struggles.

READ MOREPochettino admits he is ‘not good enough’ as sack talk intensifies: ‘I am human…’

Chelsea draw up five-man shortlist to replace Pochettino

Indeed, there is a growing theory that the axe would almost certainly be about to fall on Pochettino had he not managed to steer the Blues into the Carabao Cup final, where they will face Liverpool at Wembley on February 25.

Now according to the Daily Express, Chelsea are already starting to think about a successor regardless of that result at Wembley with a speculative report naming five candidates who could step into the Stamford Bridge hotseat if Pochettino is sacked.

And it’s suggested that Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso is likely to be their number one option to step into the breach, having caught the eye since his appointment at the Bundesliga club.

Leverkusen are currently top of the Bundesliga by two points, having won 16 and drawn four of their 20 games played to date. Chasing a first German crown in their 119-year history, it remains unlikely Alonso would abandon his side midway through the season.

Of course, Alonso is also being strongly tipped to take on the Liverpool job at the season’s end with the Reds looking for a replacement for Jurgen Klopp following his decision to step down at the end of the season.

However, Chelsea will need to act fast if they are to beat Liverpool to the 42-year-old, especially amid claims he has given the Reds his word and already touted a €75m-rated star as his first Anfield addition.

Truth be told, it would be a stretch if Chelsea were to beat Liverpool to Alonso, especially given the Spaniard’s association with the Merseysiders, where he is a major cult hero.

Mourinho heads list of four other options at Chelsea

The Blues are also reportedly willing to consider a third spell at the helm for Jose Mourinho, who is out of work after leaving Roma last month.

The Special One has already led the Blues in two hugely-successful spells, while a third stint in charge cannot be ruled out.

Mourinho has already revealed his desire to return to the Premier League, though is seemingly eyeing a return to Manchester United, where he feels he has “unfinished business”.

But given he is out of work and would not cost any compensation payments, there is certainly an appeal to Boehly about a move to reinstate the Portuguese firebrand.


Another soon-to-be out-of-work coach in Xavi is also reportedly under consideration after the Barcelona legend announced he would stepping down from the Nou Camp hotseat at the end of the season.

Alternatively, it’s claimed the American could look within the Premier League and ask Thomas Frank to make the short move across west London from Brentford.

The Dane has won many admirers for the job he has done with the Bees, leading them from the Championship into a top-half Premier League finish last season.

As is the case for Alonso, officials at Anfield are also fans of his work and he’s being touted as a contender, albeit an outsider, for the top job at Liverpool too.

And finally, Boehly is also reportedly an admirer of the work of Girona coach Michel Sanchez, who has steered the northern Catalonian side into title contention in LaLiga.

Currently trailing Real Madrid by two points and having lost just once of their 23 games this season, their progress from Segunda to LaLiga title-chasers in just 18 months has been the talk of Spain.

Already touted as a possible successor to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, it would come as no surprise were Chelsea to make a move for the Spaniard.

In the meantime, though, all eyes continue to be on Pochettino, who now faces a crucial run of games leading up to the Carabao Cup final, with an FA Cup replay away at Aston Villa next on the horizon this Wednesday, followed by a clash next Monday at struggling Crystal Palace.

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