Player mutiny forced Chelsea to axe Jose Mourinho
Crisis-hit Chelsea have taken the extraordinary step of revealing they sacked Jose Mourinho because of an irreconcilable split between him and his players.
Former manager Guus Hiddink is set to be handed the task of rescuing Chelsea's disastrous season with the club fourth from bottom of the Premier League, one point above the relegation zone.
He would then make way in the summer for a permanent appointment with Italy coach Antonio Conte the favoured candidate ahead of Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone.
But if Mourinho's sudden departure after the club Christmas lunch yesterday came as a shock, despite his poor run of results, even more astonishing was the revelation which followed on Chelsea TV.
Michael Emenalo, the Chelsea technical director, laid bare the tensions at the club which led to the dismissal of Mourinho for a second time in seven years.
Emenalo, a confidant of the club’s owner Roman Abramovich, gave a biting assessment of Chelsea’s struggles under Mourinho and spoke of “a palpable discord” between manager and players.
He also pointedly avoided referring to Mourinho by name, an indication of the rancour that existed in the end.
“Whilst there is huge sentiment for the individual who has done so much for the club, the fact of the matter remains that Chelsea Football Club are in trouble,” Emenalo said.
“The results are not good and there obviously seemed to be a palpable discord between manager and players, and we feel it was time to act.
“The owner was forced to make a very tough decision which is for the good of the club. One of the biggest clubs in the world is one point above relegation in the Premier League and that’s not good enough.”
Asked about the role of the players in Mourinho’s sacking, Emenalo added: “This is essentially the same group of players who won the league and the League Cup last season. They did it in style, and they did it by showing commitment, and by sweat and blood, tears and blood for the club, when needed.
“So I think it’s very easy to make that inference (that the players helped caused Mourinho’s exit) but it’s not one that the club accepts.”
Mourinho, who signed a £10m-a-year, four-year contract in August after leading Chelsea to the Premier League title last season, was informed of his dismissal in a 10-minute meeting with the Stamford Bridge hierarchy at the club’s Cobham training ground.
Hiddink, who led Chelsea to FA Cup success during a three-month spell as interim manager in 2009, will be asked to stabilise the club and guide the team to the end of the season. He won’t be in charge for tomorrow’s home match against fellow strugglers Sunderland, however.
Mourinho is expected to receive a full year’s salary in compensation, but with Chelsea lying in 16th position in the league, Abramovich finally lost patience with the club’s most successful manager in the wake of Monday’s 2-1 defeat at Leicester City.
Chelsea confirmed Mourinho’s departure in a statement yesterday afternoon, pointedly remarking about the current squad “reaching its potential” following the change of management.
“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,” it added.
Hiddink, 69, has been out of work since being sacked by the Dutch national side in June following five defeats in 10 games, which had left the Netherlands on course to miss out on Euro 2016. The former PSV Eindhoven and Valencia coach is regarded by Abramovich as having the experience to resurrect Chelsea’s season and motivate a group of players who have proved disappointing.
Speaking earlier this month, Mourinho hinted at the problems within the dressing room that have contributed to his departure by admitting to being too emotional and conceding that players must want to play for him. “I give everything I have, sometimes too much, too emotional,” Mourinho said. “But I do that at every club.”
Assistant manager Steve Holland is expected to take charge of the team tomorrow.
Emenalo added: “We are a club that has quality coaches embedded within the club and we will be okay for Saturday.”