CHELSEA'S hunt for a permanent manager has failed to get off the ground, despite original plans to start looking in February.
Blues go into Sunday's FA Cup semi final against Manchester City under the guidance of Rafael Benitez , with the Spaniard having already confirmed he is leaving at the end of May.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck , one of those with foremost responsibility for finding his successor, has indicated plans for his replacement are now only at their most embryonic stages.
He told Al Jazeera : “We really haven't started (the search for a manager) yet but we're all thinking about it and have some ideas, and certainly Mr Abramovich is thinking about it.
"At the moment, we're concentrating on the end of the season."
This is at odds with indications from senior Chelsea sources back in December that Chelsea hoped to start thinking about succession-planning immediately after January's transfer window came to a close.
That leaves Chelsea five weeks short of the end of their season, and six weeks short of Benitez's probable date of departure (he is expected to continue as Chelsea boss for the short post-season USA tour), without a man in the frame.
This appointment is seen as particularly important for Chelsea, not least as far as their relationship with supporters goes, with the short-term employment of Benitez still being the subject of weekly criticism from the stands.
But with season ticket renewals due to go out soon, and a closing date of May 17, it looks certain at this stage that supporters will be forced to take a personal decision on splashing out around £1,000 on matches based on no knowledge of who will be coaching the team.
Buck, who is approaching the 10th anniversary of his appointment as Chelsea chairman, will by the end of this season have presided over the departure of nine Blues bosses.
He added: “I know we have fired what most people would say are a lot of managers - terminated their relationship is a better way to describe it - but we've always thought long and hard when we've done it.
“We certainly believe in stability in managers but it has to be with the right manager and every time our relationship with a manager is terminated we think it's for good reason.”