Place your bets.  I’ve heard our new manager will be Mark Hughes.

At my journalist workplace, at a UK press agency, we get fed all sorts of rumours, many of which I can’t publish because either they’ll damage the individuals concerned; or damage CFCnet’s relationship with the Club; or risk me getting sued.  I certainly never, ever pass on information that will damage our players, that’s my number one rule.  The players are sacrosanct to me.

However, with Avram gone, it’s time to tell all.  Why not? The Season’s over and it’s time I put out a few press agency tidbits.

Firstly, Avram Grant, Israel’s golden balls.  Well, I heard a long time ago that Avram was considered by the players as a decent enough fella. However, with no playing history and a fairly junior management CV, he couldn’t command the respect of the first team.  Imagine, the Captains of Ukraine, England, West Germany and Ivory Coast along with a host of other internationals taking orders from him?  He just couldn’t command the player’s respect and was elevated too high too quickly.

In addition there was distrust over his role in Jose’s dismissal.  Avram knew he’d be the next manager of Chelsea as far back as Jan 2007 (allegedly) so all the while he was sitting on Jose’s shoulder he knew he’d be taking over sooner rather than later.  The fact that the Club never deemed fit to appoint another Director of Football says it all.

Six weeks ago there was an insurrection at the training ground and whilst I can’t go into details because it involves players, all I’ll say is that the first team threatened en masse to play in the reserves.  That was the beginning of the end of Avram because he lost authority and the players made it clear to the Club’s board they wanted a new manager.  Avram knew it as well and we’ve heard rumours since that he had an interview with another major Premier League Club before the Champions League Final.  The Club in questions rhymes with City.

Avram’s also (allegedly) been a naughty boy.  Keen on the good life I’ve heard from three separate sources about his penchant for (allegedly) ‘adult fun’.  I never published the information because I didn’t want to create problems for him or the Club.  However, I tried to hint at the story and in November CFCnet published an article on my instruction alluding to Avram’s liking of the, ahem, good life and the laydeez.  I was certain the stories would come out prior to the Champs League Final, however, I’ve now learnt that the girls involved are (allegedly) coming clean in this weekend’s News of the World.  We’ll see.

As for our new manager, there are two prime candidates.  I heard six weeks ago that Hiddink was a done deal and that could still be the case because the Club or Guus can’t be seen to sanction a move prior to Euro 2008 – the Russians would go mad.

Since then, however, we’ve now heard that the Club are increasingly favouring Mark Hughes.  Not only has he has all the credentials but remember he has the tremendous goodwill of the fans for his contribution to us lifting our first trophy in 26 years.  Who can forget the 1997 Sparky display against Liverpool in the FA Cup?  Or the winning goal to send us through in the European Cup Winners Cup Semi against Vicenza in 1998?  Also, remember Sparky is a Chelsea fan from his boyhood days.

The only black mark, if you can call it that, is that Mark Hughes is still quite young in a managerial sense.  Apparently this is the sticking point over which the Club are still debating.  Still, they debated for years over Fernando Torres and everyone’s got egg on their faces over that except ‘Pool.

Forget Rijkaard (Ten Cate’s sacking means that Rijkaard is a no go) and forget Mancini (apart from Leicester for ten games, he has no English experience).

It’s going to be Sparky and I’d love him to be in the hot seat.  He’s a Chelsea man through and through and it would sure as hell piss United off.  That’ll do!

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