Jose Mourinho sacked by Chelsea: Roman Abramovich's previous firings
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 17/12/15 7:49pm
In the wake of Chelsea's decision to part company with Jose Mourinho, we look at owner Roman Abramovich's history of mid-season sackings and whether the moves have reaped dividends.
Summer switches of manager have been a familiar feeling for Chelsea fans with Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benitez all making way at the end of a season.
But the decision to sack Mourinho is the fifth time Abramovich has opted to change the coach during a campaign. Here we look at what happened on the previous occasions…
Jose Mourinho, September 2007
What happened? Mourinho had delivered the Premier League title to Chelsea in each of his first two seasons and while he'd had to settle for second spot in the previous campaign, he'd still won both domestic cup competitions. But tensions were mounting behind the scenes as the likes of Frank Arnesen (head of youth development) and Avram Grant (director of football) jockeyed for position.
As a result, it didn't require too much of a dip in form to bring matters to a head. A defeat at Aston Villa was followed by a goalless draw at home to Blackburn, so when Chelsea were unable to beat Norwegian side Rosenborg at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League, the most successful manager in the club's history was discarded.
What happened next? Grant took over for the remainder of the season and results soon picked up. Indeed, a ninth straight win in January equalled the club's record run. He remarkably led the club to the Champions League final, too. But he was destined to be Chelsea's nearly man, losing out to Manchester United on penalties in Moscow, after seeing his side beaten in extra-time in the League Cup final against Tottenham. He left at the end of the season.
Luiz Felipe Scolari, February 2009
What happened? Scolari boasted a formidable reputation having won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and took Portugal to the final of the European Championship in 2004. The optimism surrounding his arrival endured well into November too, with Chelsea top of the Premier League table more than a third of the way through the campaign.
However, Scolari stuttered over Christmas - winning only one of six matches - and there were persistent claims that players were unconvinced by his methods. Liverpool completed the double over Chelsea in February and when the team played out a goalless draw against Hull at Stamford Bridge the following week, Abramovich had seen enough.
What happened next? Chelsea brought in Russia boss Guus Hiddink on a short-term basis to see out the season. The Dutchman proved a big hit with the players, losing only once and he still boasts the best win percentage of any manager in Chelsea history. Hiddink had an FA Cup win to show for his efforts but was denied Champions League glory after a controversial semi-final defeat to Barcelona.
Andre Villas-Boas, March 2012
What happened? Chelsea paid £13.3m in compensation to release the 33-year-old Villas-Boas from his contract at Porto in June 2011. Mourinho's former assistant had only two years of managerial experience behind him, but he signed a three-year contract in west London and was charged with overhauling an ageing squad.
His reign started with four wins and a draw from his first five games, but their form began to deteriorate as Chelsea's senior players became disillusioned by his methods. The pressure intensified after a 3-1 Champions League defeat to Napoli in which Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard were controversially left out, and Abramovich wielded the axe following a 1-0 loss to West Brom two weeks later.
What happened next? Chelsea appointed Villas-Boas' assistant Roberto Di Matteo on an interim basis. Dressing room harmony was restored and the likes of John Terry, Lampard and Cole were immediately reinvigorated. Their sixth-placed Premier League finish was the lowest in 10 years, but their success in cup competitions more than made up for it.
They triumphed in the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Wembley, and that was followed by their remarkable Champions League final success in Munich. After famously overcoming Barcelona in the semi-finals, Didier Drogba headed a late equaliser against Bayern Munich before Chelsea won the penalty shoot-out.
Roberto Di Matteo, November 2012
What happened? The Chelsea board came under heavy pressure to appoint Di Matteo permanently after Chelsea's Champions League triumph. There were doubts about his experience and tactical acumen, but he was handed a two-year contract a month later.
Chelsea started the season strongly, but their form dipped dramatically in October. Di Matteo was sacked after a 3-0 defeat to Juventus in the Champions League. That defeat left them with just one win from eight games, and Di Matteo's refusal to start £50m signing Fernando Torres was thought to be the final straw.
What happened next? Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was Abramovich's next interim appointment. The Spaniard was unpopular at Stamford Bridge given his past rivalry with Mourinho and disparaging comments he had made about the club's supporters. In March he angrily hit out at his "interim" title and announced he would be leaving the club at the end of the campaign.
Benitez was unable to inspire a Premier League title challenge as they finished third, but he fared better in the cups. Chelsea reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the League Cup, and they finished the campaign by lifting the Europa League after Branislav Ivanovic's late header sealed a 2-1 win over Benfica in the final.