Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Why Mourinho's departure could cost this Ulster man his top job

An Ulsterman's future hangs in the balance following Jose Mourinho's dramatic departure as Chelsea boss.

Carnlough man Brendan Rodgers is the reserve team coach at Stamford Bridge and is renowned for his work in building a new sporting academy at the mega-rich London club.

But, in football, a new broom sweeps clean and a newly-appointed manager normally brings in an entirely new backroom staff.

And, until further notice, Chelsea's recently recruited 'director of football' Avram Grant, the former Israeli head coach, is the immediate replacement for the controversial Mourinho.

Sources at the King's Road club last night expressed concern for the future of the entire backroom staff - including the highly-rated Rodgers.

The 33-year-old was a close ally of Blues boss Mourinho during his three years in charge of the two-times Premiership champions.

Prior to his new appointment, Rodgers - who is highly respected as a coach - had acted as youth academy chief with the Blues for the last two years.

Earlier this month he was linked to the vacant manager's job at Leicester City, which eventually went to Gary Megson.

A regular at the Northern Ireland Milk Cup, Rodgers was in charge of the young Chelsea team which lost the 2005 Premier final to Barcelona - ironically, the club that gave Mourinho his major footballing break as assistant to former boss Bobby Robson. The pair had first linked up with Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, where Mourinho was his translator.

At the time, Rodgers revealed that Mourinho monitored their progress every day - and even left a message on his answering machine during the build-up to the decider, saying: "Are you after my job, getting Chelsea to cup finals?"

Mourinho - who won every domestic honour since his arrival in England in the summer of 2004 - dramatically left the club by "mutual consent" on Wednesday.

Peter Kenyon, the club's chief executive, Bruce Buck, the chairman, and club owner Roman Abramovich's key aide, Eugene Tenenbaum, had met for crunch talks. A statement issued by the club in the early hours of yesterday read: " Chelsea Football Club and Jose Mourinho have agreed to part company by mutual consent."

Mourinho, whose profile has already been removed from the club's website, will be replaced by director of football Avram Grant. Assistant manager Steve Clarke will remain on the payroll for now.

It is understood the impasse between Mourinho and Abramovich came to a head after the club's 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa earlier this month.

Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Rosenborg in their opening Champions League game on Tuesday night is believed to have been the last straw.

The departure of the so-called 'Special One' comes three years earlier than expected, as his £5.2m a year contract wasn't due to expire until 2010.

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