Forget Roberto de Zerbi - Chelsea's ideal next manager candidate is blatantly obvious

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The Blues are on the hunt for a new manager following Mauricio Pochettino’s departure

Being Chelsea manager is a little like jury duty, except at any given moment the accused is permitted to hurdle the dock and beat you to a bloody pulp with a weighty envelope full of bank notes and loose change.

On Tuesday, the Blues announced the departure of Mauricio Pochettino from Stamford Bridge - at least until he returns in a fortnight to lend his managerial talents to Soccer Aid. His exit - very much a mutual decision by all accounts - comes just days after he guided Chelsea to a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League, and perhaps more bafflingly still, arrives off the back of a five-game winning streak. It felt as if things were really starting to come together in west London. Now, once again, square one beckons.

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Whoever succeeds Pochettino will become Chelsea’s 24th manager, including caretakers, since the turn of the millennium. As Will Jeanes of The Athletic pointed out on X, for the sake of needless context, you have to go all the way back to 1722 to reach the same tally of Popes. Then again, the Catholic church has never had Todd Boehly, a man who is beginning to give Watford’s owners a run for their money in the axe-swinging department, to contend with. It really does say something when you feel like a more unhinged ownership option than your predecessor, a Russian oligarch who was forced into selling the club because of his alleged connections with Vladimir Putin.

The hunt now commences for Chelsea’s next permanent appointment. According to bookmakers, the early favourite is Roberto de Zerbi, a man who, in many respects, feels like an ideal candidate for the Blues; he is young, suave, ambitious, and, up until last weekend, was an employee of Brighton and Hove Albion.

That being said, he would also represent a gamble, in much the same way that the last manager Chelsea poached from the Seagulls, Graham Potter, was. We all know how that panned out. De Zerbi is, presumably, ready to make the step up to a top six club in the near future, but the simple fact of the matter is that he is unproven at the very highest level, and the brief at Stamford Bridge is much more complex and hazardous than that of your average top six vacancy.

What Chelsea need, then, is a steady, elite hand, but you look down the list of alternatives and there aren’t many of those readily available. Kieran McKenna? Too risky. Ruben Amorim? Too reminiscent of De Zerbi and his prospective foibles. Jose Mourinho? Surely, surely, surely not.

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There is one name that jumps out, however. Thomas Tuchel. Many (most) felt that the German was unjustly dismissed by Boehly during his first stint in England, and there are plenty more who would be glad - perhaps even relieved - to see the angular German, with his Champions League winner’s medal and his general air of implied opulence, ride back into town on a white stallion called Redemption.

It’s not like he’s doing anything else either. Tuchel is unattached after leaving Bayern Munich, and at no point has expressly ruled out the possibility of a sensational return to West London. Whether Boehly would acquiesce to it remains to be seen, of course, but certainly, as the early knockings unfurl, he feels like the safest and sagest bet. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if Chelsea ignore him completely.

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