Jose Mourinho has been sacked by champions Chelsea for a second time, just seven months after winning the Premier League.
The 52-year-old has been dismissed with Chelsea 16th in the Premier League and three points above the relegation zone following a dismal run of nine defeats in 16 games.
Sky sources reported earlier this week that Chelsea’s board had met to discuss Mourinho’s future following Monday Night Football’s defeat at Leicester – a result that has tested owner Roman Abramovich’s patience beyond his limit.
And Mourinho’s second spell as Chelsea manager is over after 30 months and 136 games, despite delivering his third and the club’s fourth Premier League title by an eight-point margin in May.
Mourinho has been under increasing pressure as their worst start to a season since 1978 began to form, with defeats to Manchester City and Crystal Palace in August, Everton in September, Southampton, West Ham and Liverpool in October, Stoke in November, and Bournemouth and Leicester this month.
Chelsea have qualified for the Champions League last-16, however, where they play Paris Saint-German, and it is understood to have eased some of the pressure on the Portuguese for a time.
But the 2-1 defeat by league-leaders Leicester at the King Power Stadium saw Mourinho accuse his players of a “betrayal”.
If that was intended as a defence of his own position it was not the first this season. Mourinho claimed back in October, over the course of a seven-minute monologue live on Sky Sports, that the club would have to sack “the best manager they have ever had” to get him to leave Stamford Bridge again.
The majority of the club’s match-going supporters clearly agreed as they continued to back him vocally home and away, despite a haphazard start to the season littered with poor results, open criticism of his players and run-ins with the media, the Football Association and even his own medical staff.
A running verbal battle with managerial rival Arsene Wenger was reignited even before the season began when the pair did not shake hands at August’s Community Shield, and an opening-day draw with Swansea brought a public row with first-team doctor Eva Carneiro, the consequences of which are still being felt.
An FA fine for comments about referees did not deter Mourinho from getting involved with the officials again at West Ham in October, a confrontation with Jon Moss earning him a stadium ban for a trip to Stoke.
Chelsea were beaten there, too, and the statistics began stacking up against the manager: Mourinho had lost just one league home game across his two Chelsea spells coming into the season, but Crystal Palace, Southampton, Liverpool and newly-promoted Bournemouth have all won at Stamford Bridge this term.
And Leicester’s 2-1 win in his final game meant Mourinho had overseen as many league defeats in 16 games as he had across the two previous seasons combined.