Chelsea no longer attractive to the best managers, says Gary Lim
With Guardiola unavailable, Chelsea's dwindling options have taken another hit
The most coveted club manager in the game was snapped up with the announcement that Pep Guardiola would be Manchester City's next football conductor.
It means Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich has one less quality manager on his list of choices, and there weren't that many there in the first place.
Lampard's gone, Terry's on the way out, one can't help but feel the Russian needs to get this right, or the club will be set for an extended period of suffering.
If interim boss Guus Hiddink guides the club on a miraculous run to Champions League glory this season, then Abramovich should stick with the Dutchman.
He will deserve it, for pulling off one of the great European victories.
But it is highly improbable, and after the 0-0 draw with Watford yesterday morning (Singapore time), the outgoing Premier League champions look like they will even struggle to make the top four and qualify for next season's Champions League.
That's hardly pretty.
Truth is, there is little incentive for anyone from the top drawer in management to bite.
Chelsea lie in the ruins of their own making.
When owner Abramovich decided to do away with Jose Mourinho in December, the damage to the club was irreparable.
Since returning to the helm, Hiddink's unbeaten run stands at nine games in all competitions.
However, the Blues remain closer to the relegation zone than a top-four spot.
Many among the Stamford Bridge faithful continue to believe that the Chelsea managerial post is a star attraction, but it is wishful thinking.
Whoever replaces Hiddink must be prepared for at least a year without top-level European competition, and a battle to hold on to Chelsea's best players.
The manner in which previous managers were sacked, like Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto di Matteo, has further damaged the allure of the London club.
Succession planning has never been a strength of Abramovich.
Diego Simeone, who has transformed Atletico Madrid into La Liga powerhouses, belongs in that bracket of top managers.
It is unlikely, though, that he will forgo his hero status at Atletico to take on a job bearing so much risks.
It will also cost Chelsea a reported £15 million ($30.73m) to break his current contract in Madrid.
Jorge Sampaoli is one of the bookmakers' favourites to succeed Hiddink.
He led Chile to the Copa America title on home soil last year, and only last month quit his Chile post after a dispute with the country's football association.
But the Argentinian also represents a considerable risk, having never managed outside of South America.
Manuel Pellegrini is another possibility, obviously.
He will be out of a job when Guardiola takes over his position at the end of the season and the Chilean is the safe option.
He is familiar with the Premiership and has won 65 matches in his first 100 Premiership matches, a record bettered only by Mourinho (73).
And he will be bristling with intent to prove Man City's decision wrong.
What Pellegrini lacks, though, is the charisma of a Guardiola or even a Juergen Klopp.
Getting Hiddink to extend his stay beyond the end of this term looks the easiest way out, but the Dutchman has already confirmed that he will leave as initially agreed.
Top managers like Antonio Conte, Didier Deschamps, Laurent Blanc and Massimiliano Allegri have been bandied about, but none of them sounds like the big-name appointments of the past.
Chelsea find themselves at a crossroads once more.
As Abramovich looks for the 14th manager (including caretakers) of his reign, he had better get this one right.
JORGE SAMPAOLI (FREE AGENT)
The 2015 Copa America winner has never managed outside of South America.
Considering how things went with Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari at Chelsea, Sampaoli won't exactly set the pulses racing.
MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI (JUVENTUS)
He led AC Milan to Serie A glory in 2011, the club's first in seven years. His first season (2014/15) with Juventus saw him lead the team to a domestic double and the Champions League final, where they lost to Barcelona.
MANUEL PELLEGRINI (MAN CITY)
The Chilean knows all about the English Premiership.
How City fare in the Champions League knock-out stages may determine if Chelsea regard him as a suitable successor.
DIEGO SIMEONE (ATLETICO MADRID)
One of the most sought-after managers around, Chelsea must convince him that they are a risk worth taking.
Has led Atletico to glory with a style familiar with Chelsea fans - organised, compact, counter-attacking football.
ANTONIO CONTE (ITALY)
A three-time Serie A Coach of the Year, he will be attempting to guide the Azzurri to Euro 2016 glory.
His team qualified for the tournament with an unbeaten record.