On August 4th, Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet will line up in opposing dugouts for a pre-season friendly between Brighton and Chelsea.
The match will precede a Premier League campaign that will feature Steve Clarke as manager of West Bromwich Albion and Mark Hughes at QPR, as well as former Blues coach Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool.
The number of former Chelsea players – particularly from teams around the turn of the century – who have tried their hand in management is seemingly ever-increasing and the fraternity features a clutch of budding talents beginning to make an impact on the game.
Perhaps it was a natural step for many to take, particularly having worked under a series of player-managers at Stamford Bridge under Ken Bates, but even by typical standards of progression into the coaching ranks, Chelsea are extremely well represented.
In addition to the names already mentioned – which of course features a European Champion – we have Dan Petrescu doing well in Russia at Kuban Krasnodar after promising spells in Poland and in Romania, where he managed Unirea Urziceni in the Champions League.
Didier Deschamps took Monaco to a European Cup Final in 2003 before losing to Porto but remains highly-rated and successful at Marseille, who were in the last eight of Europe’s elite last season.
Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli spread their wings after dipping their toes in the managerial water at Chelsea but neither truly found the winning formula that appeared to come so easily in SW6, and whilst neither Gianfranco Zola nor Dennis Wise were in the hot-seat at the club they served so well, they too have often found the going tougher elsewhere.
Below the marquee names, however, there remains a solid core of former Blues who have done fairly well for themselves. Pierluigi Casiraghi’s playing career ended prematurely after a devastating knee injury, but he enjoyed a four-year spell at Italy’s Under-21 manager which included an Olympic Games tournament.
Erland Johnsen has had a few jobs in his native Norway, most recently at Lillestrom, whilst Albert Ferrer had a short stay at Vitesse in 2010-11. Diminutive striker John Spencer meanwhile is making a name for himself at the MLS’ Portland Timbers after serving his apprenticeship in the Houston Dynamo backroom staff.
Even Slavisa Jokanovic has moved into the coaching game, taking charge of Partizan Belgrade before heading to China, where he currently works.
There’s also a smattering of Blues working their way up through the ranks or doing fine things in other capacities. Kevin Hitchcock is a long-serving goalkeeper coach who regularly works with Mark Hughes, whilst Dimitri Kharine and Frode Grodas have also lent their considerable stopping experience to the next generation at an assortment of locations.
David Lee has settled in academy football, having worked at Bristol City before moving to Northampton Town a couple of years ago, and Andy Myers is progressing well at Chelsea and is heavily involved with Adi Viveash and Joe Edwards in the youth team.
He’s in an excellent position to further his career too, as Cobham has been home to one of the most progressive coaching trees in recent times. Talented, young Brits like Steve Clarke, like Brendan Rodgers, Paul Clement, Steve Holland and others have earned ascensions to high-ranking positions and been head-hunted by clubs in search of a young, vibrant manager for the future.
Myers will no doubt be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Eddie Newton, who also coached the future Chelsea generations before joining with with Di Matteo at Milton Keynes and then at West Bromwich Albion.
The rest is history as far as they’re concerned of course, but they’re just the most prominent and successful of a group that played at Stamford Bridge and are now taking their knowledge far and wide.
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