Chelsea must not wait until the summer to land Atleti boss

Roman Abramovich has the money. Chelsea have the status. Should Jose Mourinho cop a bullet for the club’s worst start to a season since 1978/79 then, in theory, the Blues have the ability to bring in any manager they like to replace him.

Fabio Capello, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink. An illustrious list. All of them linked with the Stamford Bridge post recently. None of them as coveted as Diego Simeone.

The Atletico Madrid manager has moved clear in the pecking order to replace Mourinho in the event of the Special One’s sacking, a move that some media outlets claim will cost Abramovich around £25m to pull off.

Depending on how desperate the Russian is to fix Chelsea’s lowly league position – they sit 16th and are now distant 100/1 shots to retain their Premier League title – it could be an inspired move.

Simeone’s management has brought Colchoneros unprecedented success. He has won five titles since taking over the club in December 2011, Copa del Rey, Europa League and a first La Liga crown for 18 years among them.

Unlike his Portuguese rival, the Argentine has experience of working at the wrong end of the table too. He saved Catania from Serie A relegation in 2011 having been hired in January, picking up 14 points from the final eight games of the season to propel them to a 13th-place finish.

Reports linking the former international midfielder with a switch to west London say that Simeone is ready to take the role next summer, but on the condition that major changes are made at the club.

Predictably, those changes surround the current squad and a singular authority over the buying and selling of players.

That roster could be obliterated by the time he takes over though, with Mourinho apparently willing to cast aside underperforming stars in January should be given the time.

If Mourinho remains in charge and is trusted to do that, it would be extremely unlikely that Abramovich would then ditch him in favour of Simeone.

Chelsea’s next match, after the international break, is at home to Norwich. Ladbrokes make the Blues 4/9 to win it but should they lose, then the pursuit of Simeone may get thrust further to the foreground.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.