…after disastrous Premier League start as Roman Abramovich calls time on second spell
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, leaving the club with no choice but to dismiss him, despite a possible £40m pay-out.
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.
Guus Hiddink is set to be installed as the interim manager until the end of the season, and could even take charge of the Blues clash with Sunderland this weekend.
The club have long-term plans to install Diego Simeone, who will cost £15million to extract from his Atletico Madrid contract.
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.
Roman Abramovich could be forced to pay Mourinho more than £40million after the Portuguese manager signed a four-year deal this summer.
But, with that deal only a few months old, there is likely to be conflict over the severance package offered by Chelsea.
A club statement confirmed that the club had 'parted company' with their manager, and said results had 'not been good enough'.
'Chelsea Football Club and Jose Mourinho have today parted company by mutual consent,' the statement read.
'All at Chelsea thank Jose for his immense contribution since he returned as manager in the summer of 2013.
'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. But 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.
'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.The club’s focus is now on ensuring our talented squad reaches its potential.
'There will be no further comment until a new appointment is made.'
The club also confirmed that their scheduled press conference for Friday has been cancelled.
It is the second time Mourinho has left Stamford Bridge under a cloud after ending his first spell as Blues boss in 2007.
He took training on Thursday but looked visibly upset, and quite shaken, when talking to players afterwards.
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.
Hiddink, who was an interim manager at the club in 2009, is tipped to take over until the end of the season, with Juande Ramos, Brendan Rodgers and Fabio Capello all also linked to the club in a short-term role.
Mourinho said only this week that he was focused on winning against Sunderland on Saturday, claiming he wanted to 'win a match' to make him feel alive.
In a conversation with Clare Balding for her show, to be broadcast on BT Sport on Thursday night, Mourinho did not seem to have any idea about his fate.
The show, recorded before his sacking, will be shown as planned, but with a notice to viewers informing them he will be sacked.