Friday 23 March 2018

Axed Jose Mourinho pays price for dressing-room 'discord'

Jose Mourinho pulls the hood over his face as he leaves Chelsea's Cobham training ground for the last time yesterday (PA)
Jose Mourinho pulls the hood over his face as he leaves Chelsea's Cobham training ground for the last time yesterday (PA)

Jason Burt and Sam Wallace

Chelsea have revealed that Jose Mourinho was sacked because of a rift between him and the players with the club set to name Guus Hiddink as caretaker manager.

In an extraordinarily frank interview, Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo pinned the blame firmly on Mourinho for the club's dramatic collapse this season because of what he termed "palpable discord".

Emenalo said Chelsea were "in trouble" but rejected suggestions that the players had let the club down. "I think it's very easy to make that kind of inference but it's not one that the club accepts," Emenalo said.

In the interview, broadcast on Chelsea TV, Emenalo referred to Mourinho as "the individual who has done so much for the club", but curiously did not name him, and stated that it was unacceptable for a club of Chelsea's stature to be in the plight it is just a point above the Premier League relegation zone.

Emenalo's stance is understandable - although his words are stronger than expected - given the new manager has to work with a squad, who had "played to instruction" in winning the league last season with "blood and sweat".

Hiddink is expected to be named manager until the end of the season today and the 69-year-old Dutchman is due to be at Stamford Bridge for tomorrow's vital league match at home to Sunderland.

However it remains to be seen whether Hiddink will be in the dug-out with the possibility that Mourinho's assistant manager Steve Holland will take the team.

"We are a club that has quality coaches embedded within the club and I think we will be okay for Saturday," Emenalo said, which would suggest Holland is an option.

It will be Hiddink's second caretaker spell at Chelsea having successfully taken charge in February 2009 until the end of the season following the sacking of Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Chelsea already have a shortlist of candidates to become permanent manager in the summer which is headed by Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone. The Argentinian has privately indicated he would consider a move to the Premier League but has not yet agreed to join Chelsea.

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