So Mourinho has legged it, possibly running into the open arms of the Portugal job, or even straight back to the Premier League (William Hill have him at 16/1). But the timing couldn’t be worse as the league looks stronger than ever. Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are hungry while the likes of Manchester City, Blackburn, Aston Villa, Everton, West Ham and eventually Tottenham look like they could push on up the table.
Mourinho succeeded when the club was his to run, Roman then forced players onto him (Andriy Shevchenko at a cost of Â£31m) and Chelsea’s fortunes went down hill as Jose altered tactics to try and appease his masters. And when the Russian grew tired of adding players he started adding back room staff too, Avram Grant arriving in the summer as Director of Football to make it five cooks (Abramovich, Kenyon, Grant, Arnesen, Mourinho) in a very crowded kitchen. Perhaps the only surprise is that it is only now that the Special Ones frustrations have boiled over.
So does this spell the end for Chelsea as a force? With Abramovich’s increasing desire for power and control, could Grant just become a “yes man”, with Roman meddling more and more with his players in the squad and his friend in charge? Mourinho proved he could win in Chelsea’s unique set up if he was left to his own devices but it would be naive to assume any decent manager could just step in and start doing the same – Claudio Ranieri proved that.
Could Abramovich be over stretching himself, is he becoming the Romanov of English football? And now Chelsea are without the Special One and have to deal with the dour faced Avram Grant instead, will they begin tumbling down the League? The Special One brought home 5 trophies in 3 years for Chelsea, will Avram be able to beat that?
With the Premier League at its most competitive and free-spending in years, now may not have been the time for Chelsea to try something new.