In May, Chelsea’s soccer club was riding high. It hoisted the English Premier League trophy and Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho was doused with celebratory champagne in the locker room.
But the bubbly has gone flat since then, along with the team’s performance. And on Thursday, after months of speculation about his leadership and the woeful performance of his team, Mourinho was finally fired.
Chelsea has won just four of 16 Premier League games this season and is rooted in the bottom half of the league with 22 games left in the season. Though the team did advance from a relatively weak group in prestigious Champions League play that pits top European teams against each other, the Chelsea bosses took action. Their move followed another loss in Premier League play on Monday.
Chelsea is dangerously close to being among the bottom three in the 20-team Premier League. If it finishes the season in one of those three spots, Chelsea would be “relegated” to the lower-division English Championship League for the 2016-17 season — a demotion that would cost it millions of dollars in lost revenue.
The club released the following statement Thursday:
“Chelsea Football Club and Jose Mourinho have today parted company by mutual consent. 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.”
Though a replacement has yet to be named, former interim Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink of Holland is reportedly set to take over for the time being. Hiddink was previously “caretaker manager” for the club in 2009.
Chelsea owner, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, signed Mourinho to a four-year contract this summer. The coach’s departure is expected to cost 30 million euros, according to ESPN.
Mourinho is the fifth Premier League manager to be sacked this season, and arguably the most high-profile, at least since former Liverpool coach Brendan Rogers was fired and replaced with Jurgen Klopp in October. At the time, Mourinho — in a prescient interview with The Irish Times — said he dislikes what he said was a culture of untenable impatience surrounding English football.
“The culture of the vulture,” he said. “I’m not speaking about Jurgen, I’ve a good relationship with him and nothing will change that. I’m speaking about the circumstances that made Brendan [Rodgers] lose his job. I don’t like people being excited that a new manager is coming. I don’t like a player to say: ‘Now, we are going to give extra to prove to the new manager.’ Give to Brendan! Not to the new manager.
“I don’t like this at all. It’s part of my world I don’t like. My world is changing so much. It’s getting worse.”