Mourinho's time runs out at Chelsea
Jose Mourinho's second spell at Chelsea ended prematurely Thursday with the team in decline only seven months after the Portuguese coach won his third Premier League title with the club.
Although Chelsea are only one point above the relegation zone, the 52-year-old Mourinho had been defiantly insisting he was the right man to oversee the team even as it collapsed on the field with a succession of humiliations.
Mourinho's departure, characterised by Chelsea as "mutual", came two and a half years after his return to Stamford Bridge and only four months into a new four-year contract.
The worst-ever start for a defending champion team in the Premier League was compounded on Monday by a 2-1 loss at surprise leaders Leicester.
After the match, Mourinho said he was "betrayed" by his players.
The personal conduct of the self-styled 'Special One' was also proving damaging to Chelsea, with Mourinho engaging in public spats with referees, a television-rights holder and even the club's doctor over the last year. Chelsea are engaged in an ongoing legal battle with Dr Eva Carneiro after she was publicly criticised and then demoted following Mourinho's opening-day outburst.
Now it is Mourinho leaving Chelsea, with Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich preparing for his 10th managerial appointment since buying the team in 2003 and transforming its fortunes with a huge injection of cash.
"Both Jose and the board agreed results have not been good enough this season and believe it is in the best interests of both parties to go our separate ways," Chelsea said in a statement.
STILL ON GOOD TERMS
"The club wishes to make clear Jose leaves us on good terms and will always remain a much-loved, respected and significant figure at Chelsea. His legacy at Stamford Bridge and in England has long been guaranteed and he will always be warmly welcomed back to Stamford Bridge."
Throughout weeks of turmoil, Mourinho retained the support of fans who loyally chanted his name.
There was no immediate announcement about a replacement ahead of tomorrow's home match against Sunderland.
"The club's focus is now on ensuring our talented squad reaches its potential," Chelsea said.
First hired by Chelsea in 2004, the Portuguese coach ended a 50-year league-title drought and defended the trophy among other successes before losing a power struggle three years later with Abramovich.
He was brought back in 2013 by Abramovich in an attempt to restore unity to the club following the divisiveness caused by the appointment of Rafa Benitez as interim manager, who was regularly jeered by fans.
Mourinho presented himself as a figure transformed from the fiery character who fell out with Abramovich in 2007, but it was not long before the combativeness returned. He survived a first trophyless season back at Stamford Bridge before cruising to the title in May.
"All at Chelsea thank Jose for his immense contribution since he returned as manager in the summer of 2013," Chelsea said. "His three league titles, FA Cup, Community Shield and three League Cup wins over two spells make him the most successful manager in our 110-year history."