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West Ham 19:45 Chelsea

Chelsea contenders

Rumour mill begins as Blues hunt for new boss

Last Updated: 29/05/08 8:01am

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Abramovich: Thinking time

Abramovich: Thinking time

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Saturday's sacking of former Chelsea manager Avram Grant has seen a host of names already be linked with the Stamford Bridge hot seat.

Grant's eight-month tenure in West London was always viewed as a stop-gap measure, even though the club consistently denied he would be leaving.

But attention now switches to those men most likely to replace the 52-year-old Israeli and the first name in the frame is Frank Rijkaard.

The Dutchman was linked with the job as soon as previous boss Jose Mourinho was axed last September and Rijkaard has just been released by Barcelona after failing to win a trophy for the Spaniards in the last two seasons.

He is a friend of Frank Arnesen, who controls the Chelsea's scouting network, and has worked with assistant coach Henk ten Cate at the Camp Nou.

Hiddink interest

Russia manager Guus Hiddink is another favoured contender. Like Grant, he is a close friend of the club's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich and regarded as the world's best tactician.

Hiddink has consistently denied being interested in the Chelsea job but has, as yet, not signed a new deal with the Russian Federation.

Sven Goran Eriksson is understood to have rejected the job on two previous occasions and was infamously caught out secretly meeting the club's chief executive Peter Kenyon in the past.

The Swede's future at Manchester City is unclear and, like Hiddink, he boasts a fine record at club and international level.

Special One

Then, of course, there is the most unlikely prospect of the return of fan's favourite Mourinho.

The 'Special One', who is reportedly favourite to join Internazionale, was axed last September and replaced by the luckless Grant, but he has been out of a job ever since.

Other contenders include Getafe's departing boss Michael Laudrup, while Portugal chief Luiz Phillipe Scolari will also be mentioned alongside Inter manager Roberto Mancini.

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