THERE was a certain inevitability about Jose Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea ending prematurely yesterday with the team in decline only seven months after the Portuguese coach won his third Premier League title with the club.
Although Chelsea are only one point above the relegation zone, the 52-year-old Mourinho had been defiantly insisting he was the right man to oversee the team, even as they collapsed on the field with a succession of humiliations.
Mourinho’s departure – characterised by Chelsea as “mutual” – came two-and-a-half years after his return to Stamford Bridge and only four months into a new four-year contract.
The worst-ever start by defending champions in England’s Premier League was compounded on Monday by a 2-1 loss at surprise leaders Leicester City.
After the match, Mourinho said he was “betrayed” by his players.
The personal conduct of the style-styled “Special One” was also proving damaging to Chelsea, with Mourinho engaging in public spats with referees, a television rights holder and even the club’s doctor over the last year. Chelsea are engaged in an ongoing legal battle with Dr Eva Carneiro after she was publicly criticised and then was demoted following Mourinho’s opening-day outburst.
Now it is Mourinho leaving Chelsea, with Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich preparing for his tenth managerial appointment since buying the club in 2003 and transforming their fortunes with a huge injection of cash.
“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,” Chelsea said in a statement.
“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.”
Throughout weeks of turmoil, Mourinho retained the support of fans who loyally chanted his name.
First hired by Chelsea in 2004, the Portuguese coach ended a 50-year league title drought and defended the trophy among other successes before losing a power struggle three years later with Abramovich. He was brought back in 2013 by Abramovich in an attempt to restore unity to the club following the divisiveness caused by the appointment of Rafa Benitez as interim manager, who was regularly jeered by fans.
Mourinho presented himself as a figure transformed from the fiery character who fell out with Abramovich in 2007, but it was not long before the combativeness returned. He survived a first trophyless season back at Stamford Bridge before cruising to the title in May.
Although Mourinho has won every honour in English football, he never managed to win a European trophy in either of his two spells at Chelsea.
He won the Champions League with FC Porto in 2004 and with Inter Milan in 2010, before and after his first tenure at Chelsea.
“All at Chelsea thank Jose for his immense contribution since he returned as manager in the summer of 2013,” Chelsea said. “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.”
Mourinho was an unsuccessful player whose big break in coaching came when he was hired as an interpreter for former England manager Bobby Robson at Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.
Robson took Mourinho with him to Porto and his influence increased as he took on coaching responsibilities. The duo moved to Barcelona for the 1996-97 season, and Mourinho remained at the club under Louis van Gaal following Robson’s departure.
Mourinho returned to Portugal but failed to win any titles during stints as a senior coach at Uniao Leiria and Benfica. That changed in his first full season at Porto, winning the league and Portuguese Cup double in 2003 and also defeating Celtic in the 2003 Uefa Cup final in Seville in the same season.
But it was the Champions League final triumph over Monaco a year later that convinced Chelsea to hire him for the first time.
He became the third coach to win the European Cup with two teams, with success in the 2010 final with Inter Milan. He then moved on to Real Madrid.
While employed by Madrid, Mourinho appeared to forget his clashes with the English media, referees and Abramovich as he started openly flirting with Chelsea during a fraught final season in the Spanish capital.
The love affair with Chelsea was rekindled but it proved too difficult to sustain before a second split.