The very nature of football management means that one manager’s misfortune is more often than not another gaffer’s gain.
A case in point is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who has spectacularly profited from Man Utd’s decision to sack Jose Mourinho, while back in the summer the eventual departure of Antonio Conte from Chelsea led to the appointment of fellow Italian Maurizio Sarri.
Sarri went on to make Premier League history having gone unbeaten in his opening 12 games - a record that has since been equalled by Solskjaer - however, the subsequent 18 top-flight matches have consisted of a sizeable seven defeats, including Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Everton.
Chelsea are now two places and three points adrift of the top-four, and with trips to Liverpool and Man Utd still to come, plus potentially tricky fixtures against Watford and Leicester in their final two games, the Europa League could prove to be the club’s most likely route into next season’s Champions League.
The question is: who will be managing the Chelsea next season?
Sarri has been a constant presence in the top echelons of the Sack Race, but amid frenzied speculation and goalkeeper stand-offs he has - perhaps admirably - clung onto his post while the likes of Claudio Ranieri and Claude Puel have exited the league in recent weeks.
Despite his vulnerable position, it would still come as a surprise if Sarri was given the boot before the end of the campaign, but a failure to bag a spot in next season’s Champions League could result in the termination of his contract after a single term.
Chelsea are ruthless when it comes to sacking managers, a system that has actually worked in their favour in the Roman Abramovich era. The only permanent Blues boss not to win any form of silverware in the last 10 years was Andre Villas-Boas, who was sent packing after nine months back in 2012 - a few months later his former side scooped the Champions League and FA Cup double.
Mourinho is out of work, £15m the richer following his compensation pay-off, and now unlikely to voyage back to Spain anytime soon, as Real Madrid - with whom he was hotly linked with - instead opted for another former Los Blancos boss in Zinedine Zidane.
A second spell at Inter Milan could be an option, depending what happens to the club’s current incumbent Luciano Spalletti, while Bayern Munich and PSG have also been touted, although it’s a Premier League return to Chelsea which makes for a great debate.
In his first Chelsea press conference (2004) Mourinho boldly stated that he was the “Special One” which he backed up with back-to-back Premier League titles, an FA Cup triumph, and two League Cups.
Mourinho left in 2007, then won the treble with Inter Milan, led Real Madrid to La Liga glory, before he returned to Stamford Bridge. He lifted the title once, and another League Cup, only for things to turn sour once again.
Managers returning to former clubs isn’t exactly uncommon, although three spells or more is a lot rarer. Martin Allen has managed Barnet a whopping five times, the same for John Sheridan at Oldham - two were as caretaker - whereas Howard Kendall took charge of Everton on three separate occasions, although the two league titles, FA Cup, and European Cup Winners’ Cup successes were all crammed into that stunning first spell at Goodison Park.
If Chelsea were to sack Sarri and lure back Mourinho, would this go down well with the supporters?
First of all, he’d have to agree to return. Who knows if he’d accept, but given the lack of concrete options at the moment, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he did, although the transfer ban could be a turn-off.
Mourinho was labelled a “judas” when he took the Man Utd job, while a section of Chelsea fans were heard chanting “F*** off, Mourinho” during the 2-2 draw earlier this season, to which he responded with the now infamous three-finger salute - signalling three titles - while earlier in the game he became embroiled in a touchline dispute with Sarri’s technical assistant Marco Ianni.
Supporters would undoubtedly be split on a return but there’s no getting away from the fact that he’s Chelsea’s most successful ever manager. Mourinho was moody, apoplectic, and frustratingly stubborn to change during the final stages of his Man Utd tenure, but if he can learn from his mistakes and rekindle the charm of old then the Premier League could well be his next port of call.