The writing's been on the wall for months, but on Thursday, the other shoe finally dropped. Four days after Chelsea FC lost their ninth game of the 2015 2016 Premier League campaign, and just seven months after they won the English top flight title, Jose Mourinho was sacked from his position as head coach. The exit of Mourinho, widely considered as one of the greatest coaches in modern football, leaves Chelsea without a manager heading into the Premier League's busy holiday season.
A Second Departure
This isn't the first time Jose Mourinho has exited as Chelsea's head coach. Previously, the Portuguese manager coached the Blues from 2004 to 2007, winning two Premier League titles along the way. He resigned in 2007, supposedly by mutual consent-though a series of disagreements with owner Rowan Abramovich and an emergency meeting by Chelsea's board suggested that "the Special One" was actually sacked.
Mourinho's 2007 departure took place in September and caught most soccer fans completely off guard. The same could not be said for his second exit from Stamford Bridge, which was thought to be a long time coming by pundits in the football world. Despite managing to win their group in the Champions League, Chelsea have been dismal for the majority of the 2015 2016 campaign, collecting just 15 points from 16 fixtures. On Monday, they lost their ninth match of the EPL season, falling 1-2 to Leicester City.
The defeat against Leicester left the Blues in 16th place, just one point above the red zone. Somewhere along the line, the conversation switched from one about whether or not Chelsea could salvage their chances of defending the league title, to one about whether or not they could face relegation come springtime. Since Chelsea have four Premier League games scheduled between now and New Year's weekend, club board members were clearly feeling pressure to make a change. Unfortunately for fans of Mourinho, that meant the dismissal of the coach.
Once again, Chelsea's official statement says that Mourinho's departure was a decision made "by mutual consent." Unsurprisingly, though, many publications are reporting the exit as a sacking, and for good reason. Rumors have been swirling for months about if and when Mourinho would get the boot. According to The Guardian, Chelsea's technical director even said that Jose was sacked due to "palpable discord" with players. We've certainly seen conflict between Mourinho and Diego Costa in recent months though Costa himself has taken plenty of heat for Chelsea's failures this season.
Even if the decision was by mutual consent, though, British journalist TV personality Piers Morgan has grabbed plenty of headlines by running with the sacking angle. "This is the single worst decision in the history of sport," Morgan wrote in The Daily Mail, before adding "Shame on you Chelsea for what you've done to Jose Mourinho today."
Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter whether Jose's contract termination was by mutual consent or a decision made exclusively by the board. Mourinho is out, and with 22 games remaining on the schedule for the 2015 2016 Premier League season, Chelsea have to find a new manager, and fast!
So who are the prospects? Naturally, a few big names were floated immediately following the Thursday announcement that the Special One was no longer the coach at Stamford Bridge. Football legends such as Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti, still on sabbatical following his ousting from Real Madrid this past spring, could both be on the table.
Right now, it seems Guardiola could sign on as Chelsea's permanent manager in the summer. However, the Spanish soccer coach has a contract with Bayern Munich until the end of the season, and will almost certainly finish out his commitment. Guus Hiddink, meanwhile, was reportedly in London to accept the interim post at Stamford Bridge right after Mourinho was removed from the position.
Hiddink, who previously served as interim manager at Chelsea in 2009, is coming off a brief and rough stint coaching the Netherlands national football team. He took over at Holland in August 2014, right after Louis van Gaal coached the Oranje to a third-place finish in the World Cup. Under Hiddink, though, the Netherlands team failed to qualify for Euro 2016-a disastrous turn of events that the 69-year-old manager will look to forget at Stamford Bridge.
What do you think of Jose Mourinho's second exit from Chelsea? Do you think the Blues will do better under Hiddink, or do you agree with Piers Morgan that sacking Mourinho is a travesty? Pick up a Chelsea jersey at Soccer Box to show your support for the club, then share your thoughts with other fans on one of our social media feeds. You can find us on Twitter, Instagram, Google +, and other popular platforms.