Desailly: next Blues boss will need time
He lifted the European Cup twice as a player, so perhaps Roman Abramovich should listen when former Chelsea great Marcel Desailly says the club's next manager must be given time.
Russian billionaire Abramovich is looking for his sixth manager in eight years since taking over at Stamford Bridge, his Champions League obsession costing Carlo Ancelotti his job just a year after he won a domestic League and Cup double.
Ex-defender Desailly became the first player to win the competition in successive years with different clubs when he left after Marseille's victory in 1993 to score for AC Milan in a 4-0 win over Barcelona in the 1994 final. Guus Hiddink remains favourite to return to west London, but Desailly says whoever gets the job must not be jettisoned at the first setback.
'The mood [in the dressing room] is fine. Players can move on quite easily,' said the French World Cup winner, who is still in contact with his former teammates.
Asked who he'd like to see get the job, he replied half-jokingly: 'One of my old friends, [Marseille manager Didier] Deschamps or [Lilian] Thuram. I don't really know. It doesn't matter as long as the coach has a bit of experience.
'They will again be one of the best teams in the league for sure. They just have to be patient. I think next year it will be a three-year objective, winning the Premier League first ... and after that they can maybe concentrate on the Champions League.'
Now 42, Desailly will be in Hong Kong to see his former team at next month's Barclays Asia Trophy (July 27 and 29).
'We sacked Ancelotti, we're very sad, but we'll be pleased to see them with a new coach in Hong Kong. The quality of players is still there. They're still one of the best teams in the Premier League.
'[However] there's a gap between the level of commercial and media exposure that Chelsea have according to what they achieved in [the Champions League]. I don't know how many times they've been in finals and semi-finals. We don't really know what is missing, they have experienced players but every time they have failed. Normally the luck has not been there, but I think it's a three-year process.'
With machinations at Fifa having dominated the soccer agenda recently, the thought occurs that the game could use more intelligent, articulate former professionals like Desailly in power. Surprisingly, he disagrees.
Having played in Qatar, around which country so much of the recent controversy has been centred, and spent the past few years living in Ghana (which he left aged four), Desailly is ideally placed to judge the positive effects football can still have.
'I think they can handle it, it will pass. The football world is huge and it's working; yes there's some controversy but they can handle it. [Fifa president Sepp] Blatter has done very well, he's given the World Cup to Africa, he's trying to grow the power of football in those various countries.
'Michel Platini is at Uefa, Franz Beckenbauer doesn't really have a position yet [he is set to retire from Fifa's executive committee]. Are footballers really ready to involve themselves in a high position like that? Blatter is doing the job very well and we'll move on.
'What is great is that [bringing the World Cup to new host countries] is helping to develop football. Russia is a big country; Asia through the World Cup in Qatar, it means that football is trying to grow again in various countries. Sports facilities will be readjusted and readapted. Can you imagine the facilities Qatar will put in place?'
Having spent his time since retiring in punditry, getting in touch with his roots and working with charity projects, Desailly is now doing his coaching badges in preparation for throwing his hat in the managerial ring next year.
'I don't know if I will start in the Premier League, it's something huge, but I will be available. You need to be ready.'
And who knows, there just might be another job going at Chelsea when he's ready to start his new career.
Marcel Desailly is an ambassador for Barclays Fan of Hong Kong - a competition to find the most passionate Premier League fan in the city. The winner will receive VIP tickets to all four matches of the Asia Trophy. Fans can enter at www.barclaysfootball.com