Jose Mourinho shed tears yesterday at what was described by witnesses as an extraordinarily emotional farewell to his Chelsea squad at the club's training ground. With some of his senior players disillusioned at the shock dismissal of Mourinho, his successor, Avram Grant, is considering appointing former England midfielder Jamie Redknapp as a coach to help build bridges within his squad.
Redknapp, 34, now a Sky Sports pundit after retiring from the game two years ago, has an impeccable reputation within English football and is highly rated by Grant. A friend of Redknapp's father, Harry, Grant believes the former Liverpool captain, who lives close to Chelsea's Surrey training ground, would make an excellent coach who would help smooth the way for the new regime.
It is Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, Redknapp's cousin, who are understood to be the most unhappy with the treatment of Mourinho. The pair were Mourinho's closest allies in the dressing room and were the first contacted on Wednesday night as his fate became clear. The club are understood to be preparing to end the stand-off over Lampard's future by giving him the £135,000-a-week contract that he wants in order to stabilise the club.
While there is no question of Drogba and Lampard, who are both currently injured, refusing to play their mood was understood to be angry and disillusioned at the manner in which their manager had been swept aside.
After a chaotic night on Wednesday when senior officials at Chelsea were caught out by the pace of developments over Mourinho's departure, the club attempted to stabilise the ship yesterday.
They allowed Mourinho to visit his players at the Cobham training ground in Surrey in the morning to say a private farewell to his squad and selected members of staff. While speaking to the players, the 44-year-old Portuguese coach wiped away tears and was embraced by members of his squad. Even Roman Abramovich, whose relationship with his manager had completely deteriorated, agreed that Mourinho should be allowed one final meeting with his players.
Grant, 52, oversaw his first training session later in the day and spent most of it talking to Abramovich in Hebrew on the touchline. He is well aware that he has to win over some of his squad members but he eventually proved popular at Portsmouth after early suspicion from Harry Redknapp. As well as those disappointed to see Mourinho leave, there are many delighted to see the back of him including Andrei Shevchenko, Michael Ballack and Joe Cole.
Drogba, bought by Mourinho from Marseilles for £24m in 2004, was said by one source to be "fuming" at his former manager's treatment by Chelsea. For the captain John Terry, the events of the last 48 hours were less black and white. He has long been the major point of contact between Abramovich and the Chelsea dressing room and spoke to the club's owner yesterday about the future.
After Mourinho's meeting with his players, he was driven back into central London and the club's hierarchy addressed the squad. The chief executive Peter Kenyon outlined briefly the reasons for Mourinho leaving, much of which was later included in a club statement in which Chelsea claimed the decision had been made "by mutual consent". He stood alongside Abramovich; club director Eugene Tenenbaum, the Canadian businessman and aide to the Russian billionaire, and the chairman, Bruce Buck.
Chelsea claim that Grant, a former coach of the Israel national team and confidant of Abramovich, will manage the club in the long term but club insiders believe that another new name will be brought in. The names on the list include Jurgen Klinsmann, Didier Deschamps and Guus Hiddink but the situation is dependent on how Grant and assistant Steve Clarke fare over the next few weeks – starting with Sunday's trip to Old Trafford.
The question of compensation has been settled after negotiations between Mourinho's agent, Jorge Mendes, and the club. The figure is much lower than the £25m that was quoted by the BBC yesterday. Mourinho earned £5.2m a year and had a contract that ran until 2010. It is believed he is likely to have settled for around £8m. As is the policy with all Chelsea staff members he has a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the terms of his departure.
The club said yesterday, in a statement solemnly read on the in-house television channel, that it was "only right that we explain the reasons behind Jose Mourinho leaving Chelsea" at such a "difficult time". They added that they wanted to "recognise the immense contribution he has made to the club and to English football".
The statement continued: "The key phrase here is that there was mutual agreement. Jose did not resign and he was not sacked. What is clear, though, is we had all reached a point where the relationship between the club and Jose had broken down. This was despite genuine attempts over several months to resolve certain differences.
"The reason the decision has been taken is that we believed the breakdown started to impact on the performance of the team and recent results supported this view.
"We also must pay tribute to the great job Jose did. He has been the most successful manager the club has known. Jose has been instrumental in putting Chelsea where it is today, among the leading clubs in Europe and the world."
Mourinho last night released a typically enigmatic statement via the club's website: "I am very proud of my work in Chelsea and I think my decision in May 2004 to come to England was an excellent one. It was a beautiful period of my career. I want to thank all Chelsea FC supporters for what I believe is a never ending love story. I wish great success to the club, a club that will be forever connected to me for some historic moments. I wish the players happiness in football and in their family life. Finally, on my wife's and children's behalf we thank the great professionalism of their school teachers and the beauty of so many friends."Reuse content