LONDON (AFP) - - Jose Mourinho's three-year reign at Chelsea came to an abrupt end on Thursday as the Portuguese manager's fraught relationship with the club's Russian owner, Roman Abramovich, finally reached breaking point.
An announcement that will send shockwaves through English and European football came in the early hours of Thursday morning with
A terse statement posted on the
Mourinho had reportedly informed Frank Lampard and other senior players that he was on his way out on Wednesday evening and late-night talks at
If he wants to go straight into another job, Mourinho will not be short of offers.
The Portuguese manager, who made his reputation by guiding FC Porto to Champions League glory in 2004, has transformed the English football landscape since taking over at
Of the 185 games he has been in charge,
The statistics go some way towards justifying Mourinho's famous description of himself as "a special one."
That comment was made in his first press conference in
But the success has failed to seduce Abramovich and the Russian's relationship with his most outspoken employee turned sour last season when he refused to come up with the funds Mourinho required to land his January transfer targets -- a stance the Portuguese believes contributed to Chelsea conceding the Premier League title to Manchester United.
On the other side of the feud, Abramovich has grown increasingly impatient with the fact that, after investing nearly 500 million pounds (one billion dollars) in the club, Chelsea have failed to conquer Europe and continue to lag behind the likes of Arsenal,
Tuesday's disappointing 1-1 Champions League draw with Norwegian side Rosenberg -- watched by fewer than 25,000 fans -- appears to have brought simmering tensions to the boil, and, with hindsight, Mourinho's pre-match comments about the need to buy the best eggs to make the best omelette offered a hint that things were not going smoothly behind the scenes.
Mourinho and Abramovich appeared to have agreed to bury their differences over the summer and the manager had started this campaign pledging that he would be a much more "chilled" figure than in his first two seasons in
But the strain of
The manager has also made no attempt to disguise his frustration with
Mourinho has also clashed with the Russian owner over backroom appointments, notably the May 2005 recruitment of Dutchman Frank Arnesen as the club's youth/scouting supremo and the appointment of Avram Grant as director of football.
Grant is likely to be in charge of