Jose Mourinho has been sensationally sacked as Chelsea manager after a 2-1 defeat by Leicester compounded his side’s miserable start to the season.
The Portuguese boss guided his side to the Premier League title in May, but Monday’s loss was their ninth of the campaign, leaving them in 16th place, just a point above the relegation places.
Mourinho, who was ready to open talks over a financial settlement to seal his exit after the defeat at West Ham at the end of October, has now seen his second spell at Stamford Bridge come to an end.
But, having only signed a new four-year-deal in the summer, there is likely to be conflict over the severance package offered by Chelsea.
It is the second time Mourinho has left Stamford Bridge under a cloud after ending his first spell as Blues boss in 2007.
Mourinho lost support within the Chelsea hierarchy after his bust-up with former club doctor Eva Carneiro during the 2-2 draw with Swansea on the opening day of the season.
Stars of last season’s campaign including Eden Hazard, Nemanja Matic and Cesar Azpilicueta have all come in for fierce criticism from their manager in front of their peers, leading to splits in the camp.
He claimed after the latest defeat – away to league leaders Leicester City – that he felt ‘betrayed’ by his players, and that he was a victim of his own success last season.
‘Sometimes I find myself thinking last season I did an amazing job, brought players to a level not their level. If this is true I brought to such a level they couldn’t keep for more than super-motivation to be leading. That is one possibility.’
However, Abramovich decided that the defeat was a step too far, with Chelsea just a point above the relegation zone after 16 games.