Chelsea,after their 3-0 win over Fulham,consolidated their grip on the Champions League qualification slot,and if reports in Spanish papers are to be believed,are also making progress in their pursuit of a permanent manager.
Papers have reported that Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini might be the one to replace interim manager Rafa Benitez. The reports claim that one of Pellegrinis advisers have met officials in London to thresh out a deal that will take the manager from Spain to England. The Chilean has a fine pedigree,having previously coached several top notch Spanish clubs,including Real Madrid and Villarreal.
He also has the required Champions League nous,something the Chelsea camp have considered important. Under his stewardship,Málaga made the quarterfinals of the Champions League this season and would have been through to the semifinal as well had they not conceded two late goals to German side Borussia Dortmund.
Apart from his experience in managing big sides both at home and in Europe,the 59-year old has the added advantage of being conversant in English,and is also well known as a disciplinarian,something that will come in handy when dealing with a star-studded side like Chelsea. His contract with the Spanish side runs out by the end of next season,with the buy-out clause set at around £3.4m,and it seems all that remains to be sorted is whether the Chilean would consider working out of England.
Currently Chelsea are managed by Benítez,who was handed a seven-month contract after the clubs sacking of Roberto Di Matteo. The other possiblity that the Chelsea minders have often talked about is the Real Madrid coach and former boss at Stamford,Jose Mourinho. Other outsiders for the spot are Everton coach David Moyes and Atlético Madrid coach,Diego Simeone. Gianfranco Zola too has caught the eye during his time at Watford.
The current brief for the Italian at Chelseas helm is to take the side to a Champions League spot and Benitez was boosted in this bid by his first away success since mid-January. Former England captain John Terry,who was recalled to the side,scored twice in the win and said it was not a given that Chelsea would go into the next season as automatic qualifiers for the lucrative league.
As for the Champions League,I said a long time ago that the race for the top four would go until the end for the season. Itll be like this and I dont think any of the clubs up there,including Everton,is out of it. Things can change with every game. We have to keep winning our games and keep going, he said.