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Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Friday, 12 November 2010

Chelsea to promote from within to replace coach Wilkins

By Dan Roan
BBC sports news correspondent

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti
Chelsea boss Ancelotti had praised Wilkins' contribution

Chelsea are likely to replace coach Ray Wilkins with an internal appointment, BBC Sport understands.

The club announced on Thursday they were not renewing Wilkins' contract, and that he was leaving immediately.

Former Milan defender Paolo Maldini, has been linked with the job, as well as Gianfranco Zola, Mauro Tassotti, Alessandro Costacurta and Steve Clarke.

But Chelsea are keen on appointing from within, with assistant first team coach Paul Clement a serious contender.

Chief scout Michael Emelano is also being considered for the vacancy.

Wilkins had joined the Londoners' coaching staff for a second time in 2008 under Luiz Felipe Scolari, and had been retained to work with Dutchman Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti.

Now Italian Ancelotti has been in the post for a full year, and his knowledge of English, and the English game, has improved, the Blues hierarchy concluded Wilkins' role had become less important and decided to let him go.

At his press conference on Friday, Ancelotti paid tribute to Wilkins but said he respected the club's decision to let him go.

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"Ray was a fantastic assistant coach and I want to thank him," said Ancelotti. "He was a fantastic support last season and this season.

"He did a fantastic job. He helped me and all the team to win the double. He is my friend. I have a fantastic relationship with him and I will continue to have a fantastic relationship with him.

"The club made this decision. I think it was a difficult decision for everyone. But I have respect for this decision but I think now we have to move on.

"We have to look forward and we have to stay focused on the next game. It's an important season for us and it's important to move on."

Wilkins has been left devastated by his surprise dismissal, while the players are "surprised and shocked, with a lot of sadness around the place", according to a club source.

Ancelotti 'respects' decision to drop Wilkins

"I spoke with the players to tell them the club made this decision," added Ancelotti. "The players are focused on this season and they will continue to stay focussed."

Ancelotti brought assistant coach Bruno Demichelis with him when he arrived from Milan last year, but the sports psychologist will not replace Wilkins as he will remain focused on the club's sports science and medicine division.

Tassotti and Costacurta worked with Ancelotti at AC Milan and are possible candidates to again link up with the Chelsea boss.

Zola, a fans' favourite during his time as a Chelsea player, had an unsuccessful stint as manager at West Ham, where he was assisted by former Blues first team coach Clarke.

Clement joined Chelsea in 1994 when he was appointed on a part-time basis to coach the under-15s, and has become a well-respected member of the coaching staff.

After a spell at Fulham, he became youth team manager in June 2007 and then reserve-team manager in December 2008, stepping up to work with the first team on a temporary basis under Hiddink before having the transition made permanent under Ancelotti.

'Head opposition scout' Emelano is a former Nigeria international who was first hired by Avram Grant during his time in charge at Chelsea.



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see also
Chelsea part company with Wilkins
11 Nov 10 |  Chelsea
Win was for Ancelotti - Wilkins
03 Oct 10 |  Chelsea
Wilkins defends Scolari tactics
07 Feb 09 |  Premier League


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