Roman Abramovich is a ruthless man, and that's an understatement. Since purchasing Chelsea back in 2003, the Russian Oligrach has effectively used the Blues as one giant plaything, hiring and firing managers for merely looking at him the wrong way. Or not winning the Champions League. Either or.
Even then, he sacked the one man who delivered him European glory – the trophy he absolutely craved from the day he bought the controlling share off Ken Bates and all but saved the Blues from liquidation.
Since that day almost a decade ago, Chelsea have gone through nine managers with Rafa Benitez set to be casualty number 10 come the end of the season, whether he secures domestic and continental glory or not. But exactly where are the gaffers that Roman has axed during his stint in west London now?
Claudio Ranieri – AS Monaco
The Tinkerman was brought in in May 2000 to succeed Graham Rix following the latter's awful two game stint at Stamford Bridge where he won only 50% of his games. Unfortunately for Claudio, he happened to be in charge during the 2003 takeover and, as is the case with any manager, found his position with Chelsea come under scrutiny from the day Abramovich piled his roubles into the club.
His stock dropped considerably the day Chelsea crashed out of the Champions League in 2004 to eventual runners up Monaco, a defeat Ranieri shouldered the blame for following a number of bizarre substitutions and tactical changes, most notably utilising Dutch striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as a right-back.
Since being shown the exit door with the Blues, the Italian has rocked up at Valencia, lasting less than a season, after which he took a two year hiatus from the game before taking over a Parma and after securing their Serie A future, Juventus, who had just returned to Italy's top flight following the Calciopoli scandal, is where he spent his next two years.
From 2009, Ranieri endured a two year stint with AS Roma before Inter Milan came calling in 2011, of whom he lasted less than a season with 61-year-old failing to appease owner Massimo Moratti, who craved similar glory to that delivered by Jose Mourinho.
Falling under the axe of another ruthless chairman saw his time at Inter cut short, only for Monaco to come calling. Since taking over in the summer, and following their relegation to Ligue 2, the French side are all but set to return to Ligue 1 next season and currently lead by three points with 10 games remaining.
Jose Mourinho – Real Madrid
Announcing himself as the Special One when he arrived at Chelsea, he quickly endeared himself to the supporters with his charismatic attitude towards both the media and management. Mourinho, it can be argued, was the clubs' greatest manager, regardless of Roberto Di Matteo's exploits in the Champions League, which we'll get to later.
Securing European glory with FC Porto in 2004, of course made famous by *that* knee slide at Old Trafford on the road to glory. Delivering the Premier League in his debut campaign - Chelsea's first in 50 years - aided in his raising hero status significantly and it was no shock to understand of the supporters sadness when they learned of his decision to leave the club.
After some time away from the game, Jose returned with Inter in 2008 before re-establishing himself as one of footballs best managers, securing back-to-back Scudetti in his two years at the San Siro and a second Champions League winners' medal as his final parting gift to the Nerazzurri.
A high profile switch to Real Madrid followed suit and after failing to usurp Barcelona as Spain's best in his first year, the Primera Division title was won in his second and in record breaking style. A topsy-turvy season has seen Los Blancos all but out of the race for La Liga, yet with the Copa Del Rey and Champions League in his sights, Mourinho could exit the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in a blaze of glory, with reports strongly suggesting a return to Stamford Bridge is set to go ahead in the summer.
Avram Grant – Biding His Time In West London, Waiting For The Perfect Moment To Pounce
Ah, the Blues' very own 'Wind In The Willows' character, good old Avram was always going to secure his first high profile managerial job with the Blues when he was A) Announced as Chelsea's Director of Football, much to the disapproval of Mourinho and B) Jose left his position at the club in September 2007.
To be fair to Grant, his win percentage during his time at Stamford Bridge was a staggeringly high 67% - the same figure as Mourinho when the Portuguese tactician brought his time in west London to an abrupt end.
Reaching the final of the Carling Cup, as it was known back in the day, only to miss out on glory because of Jonathan Woodgate's face, Grant came within one John Terry penalty of achieving Roman's dream, only for the Chelsea stalwart to slip on the conveniently placed banana skin that, I like to think, found its way to Moscow via the medium of Mario Kart.
Sacked following the wet and windy evening in Russia, Grant forced his way back into management in 2009 with Portsmouth and then West Ham United in 2010 when he enjoyed unprecedented levels of success, achieving back-to-back relegations with two different clubs - a feat in itself, it has to be said, resigning from the former and being sacked by the latter.
Old turtle face was back in football management last January, guiding Partizan Belgrade to their fifth consecutive Serbian championship before resigning again at the the end of the season, presumably after hearing that the club may be hiring again in the summer of 2012 - again, more on that later. Now often spotted around Stamford Bridge whenever a manager is under pressure in the vein hope he will force his way into Abramovich's thoughts when the next manager is considered.
Luiz Felipe Scolari – Brazil National Team
'Big Phil' they called him - a common misconception considering he's 5ft 11in - when he arrived and having turned down the England role due to the media continuously harassing him and his private space - that doesn't sound like the press in this country - he ended up taking a more high profile job in football with an employer rushing through managers quicker than Henry the VIII and wives.
Taking his 74th managerial job in football in July 2008, Scolari became the first World Cup winning manager to manage in the Premier League as a result. Initially, the football on offer at Stamford Bridge was scintillating, pleasing to Don Abramovich who was delighted to see the game being played in a manner of which he imagined.
However, as the performances turned from sweet to sour, the result drieds up also and after an embarrassing 0-0 draw with Hull City, Scolari was out of work. Nevertheless, it wasn't long before he was back in management, with Uzbekistani giants Bunyodkor, earning a princely €13m a year, before departing a little under 12 months after his initial appointment.
Back to Brazil he went after that with Palmeiras and despite winning the Copa do Brasil, 'Big Phil' was out of work once again in September 2012, albeit for two months only, replacing the outgoing Mano Menezes and returning to the Brazil National Team, over a decade after leaving O Selecao for Portugal.
Ray Wilkins – Sky Sports Pundit
One game in charge, 100% win ratio, unfairly relieved of his duties in my eyes, both as gaffer and as Carlos Ancelotti's assistant in 2010.
Guus Hiddink – Anzhi Makhachkala
After Wilkins' dynastic reign in west London, the third most loveable Dutchman - Johan Cruyff and Martin Jol occupying first and second spot, respectively - took over the mantle at Stamford Bridge, albeit on an interim basis only (Where have we heard that before?)
One of only two managers that, it can be argued, Roman didn't want to see slip through his grasp. A 73% win ratio during his tenure, losing just once to a then rejuvenated Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, ensured Blues fans continuously chanted 'Roman, sign him up' on the final day of the season.
Won the FA Cup and, in true Hiddink fashion, departed after a little over three months at the club. Wound up with Turkey in 2010 before taking charge of big spending Anzhi Makhachkala last year, of whom he remains in charge. He was forced to deny reports earlier in the year that he was set to retire at the end of the season, thankfully, because let's be honest - Guus is awesome.
Carlo Ancelotti – Paris St. Germain
With Hiddink departing for pastures new, Roman turned to AC Milan head coach Carlo Ancelotti. Fresh from performing as Boss Nass in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and you know, winning trophies with the Rossoneri, fans were understandably excited about the appointment of the Italian.
And they weren't to be left down by their new man at the helm. Carlo, let's be frank here, was a great Chelsea manager. He had the team playing the way Roman demanded and with the style came the substance, Ancelotti securing a Premier League trophy in his first year with the FA Cup to match, overseeing the Blues first ever domestic double in their history and becoming only the second non-English manager in history to achieve such a feat.
However, an uneven second campaign at Stamford Bridge, and failure to defend the Premier League, saw Chelsea's Almighty Ruler Abramovich unappeased. “Off with his head!” he screamed - not literally, obviously - and Carlo was left to rue the day he allowed Jermaine Beckford 'Diego Maradona' his way through the Blues defence on the final day defeat to Everton.
Now in charge of Paris St. Germain, overseeing a Parisian Revolution, spearheaded by the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Javier Pastore, Lucas Moura and Ezequiel Lavezzi. A treble remains a possibility, with PSG leading Ligue 1 and still very much in with a shout of landing Coupe de France and Champions League glory. Has supposedly agreed to take over at Real Madrid in the summer, which in turn could lead to Jose returning to Chelsea etc. etc. etc.
Andre Villas-Boas – Tottenham Hotspur
Now we're getting somewhere. With Ancelotti temporarily wiped off the face of the earth, Chelsea came calling for the hottest of young managerial talents and with his sparkling ginger beard and throat croakier than Darth Vader's after a 20 pack of Malboro Reds, Andre Villas-Boas was announced as Carlo's successor in 2011.
Coming off the back of a momentous season with FC Porto, where the Portuguese side Death-Star-to-Alderaan'd their way to glory, much was expected from the young tactician. His one rule was simple - shepherd out the old guard and oversee a new era of domestic and continental dominance with Chelsea. It lasted nine months.
John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, in particular, weren't familiar with his methods of, let me see if I get this right, “Squad Roatation”, the epitome of which came in Chelsea's win over Newcastle United and Lampard struck a 'Who, Me?!' look about him when he was substituted in the win.
On the cusp of exiting the Champions League and defeat to West Bromwich Albion left Abramovich with, he perceived to be, little choice but to remove Villas-Boas from his position at the club.
A short break before the 35-year-old emerged at White Hart Lane. Spurs had sacked Harry Redknapp and needed a new manager to come in and that man happened to be Villas-Boas. A rocky start ensued, but following a 12 game unbeaten run recently brought to an abrupt end by Liverpool, Spurs currently find themselves two points ahead of Chelsea in third, albeit having played a game more.
Roberto Di Matteo – At Home Weeping Over His Champions League Winners Medal, Ruing The Day He Lost To West Brom
Came in with Villas-Boas in the summer of 2011, the Italian succeeded the 35-year-old a year ago before steering them past Napoli in the Champions League, a game they had been expected to lose following the first leg in Naples, and despite the Premier League form, Di Matteo led Chelsea to FA Cup and, perhaps more importantly, to the Champions League trophy, securing a memorable penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich.
A two year contract quickly followed suit, but did Di Matteo see it out? Did he f**k. On the cusp of exiting the Champions League and defeat to West Bromwich Albion left Abramovich with, he perceived to be, little choice but to remove Di Matteo from his position at the club. Woah, deja-vu there.
Bizarrely sacked for absolutely no reason whatsoever, Di Matteo can be found at his home, cursing Abramovich in his native tongue, while sporadically appearing in the BBC Gossip column when a low level Premier League or big spending Championship team are in need a new manager. Linked with Reading right now.
Rafael Benitez – Forging A Near On Unbreakable Bond With The Chelsea Supporters
The Greatest Manager In Chelsea History and took absolutely no time whatsoever to endear himself to the supporters, encouraging the fans to applaud their fallen comrade, Di Matteo, in the 16th - actually 17th - minute of every game.
He's so good at his job, that he's managed to shoulder the flack from supporters who perplexingly boo the players during games. Had been expected to be relieved of his duties following the FA Cup win over Middlesbrough, in which Benitez delivered a well measured critique of Abramovich and the supporters who continuously criticise and undermine his position at Stamford Bridge, or in Layman's terms – “He had a meltdown” (He didn't really).
Will last until the end of the season, something he's admitted to, even though the people - well, me - are calling for Zdenek Zeman to be appointed. A Champions League finish, FA Cup and Europa League glory remain a possibility, but even then Blues fans won't be happy with his overall performance.
Manager Number 11
Alan Curbishley, I hope.