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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Chelsea's Buck: Mourinho's time has passed

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck has dismissed talk of former manager Jose Mourinho returning to Stamford Bridge.

With interim boss Guus Hiddink still set to end his temporary spell with the Blues this summer to return to the Russian national team full-time, speculation is intensifying about the long-term managerial situation in west London.

AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has featured heavily in tabloid speculation while Mourinho, who is nearing the end of his first season as Inter Milan boss, has been linked with a return to the club he left 18 months ago.

However, when asked in a fans' question and answer session about Mourinho, Buck said: ''My honest answer is that I don't think it is likely to happen.

''Jose was a great coach, he is a great guy but I think his time at Chelsea Football Club has passed.''

Asked about Mourinho's abrupt exit in 2007, Buck added: ''Well first of all we didn't fire him; it was mutual that he left the club.

''There is not much more we can say than in September 2007. The board and Jose were not seeing eye-to-eye on a number of things and it was time we parted company.

''We have great respect, obviously, for what he did for Chelsea Football Club, we are on great terms with him. I saw him at the Manchester United match, he is a great guy and he did great things for the club.

''But in September 2007 Jose and the board and Roman decided it was time for Jose to leave.''

Buck also emphasised Hiddink's tenure is strictly short-term.

''Guus Hiddink came here on a temporary basis two months ago and it is thanks to the Russian FA that he was able to come here; it is purely a temporary role,'' said the American.

''There has been a lot of speculation about him staying, particularly as he has been doing a great job. That will not be the case.

''It is now up to the board to find a new manager for the long term and that is a process that we have started and is ongoing. Anything you might read is just speculation at this stage. When we have an agreement for our new manager we will announce it.''

Buck also expects some of the current squad to be sold to fund new signings during the summer months but did not rule out owner Roman Abramovich spending his own cash to get the right player.

The futures of Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda, Salomon Kalou and Deco have already come under scrutiny this season and Chelsea may be ready to cash in on some of their stars to fund a rebuilding programme under their new manager.

''I think I could maybe discuss transfers generally,'' said Buck. ''We are expecting some players to leave this summer, I don't know whether it is three, four or five, and several players to come in.

''In the large part we would like to fund acquisitions with sales, that just makes good business, but I think that if the player came along at the right price, and it was a hefty price, and it worked for Chelsea, then Mr Abramovich would be willing to invest more money in the club for that transfer - but by and large we'd like to purchase players with funds that have been received by selling players.''


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