Ten Cate sacked in Chelsea clear-out

The upheaval at Chelsea continued yesterday with the sacking of assistant manager Henk ten Cate. The Dutchman is due to receive a bigger pay-off than Avram Grant although his departure is a severe blow to the so-called "Dutch group" at Chelsea which is led by Frank Arnesen, the club's chief scout and director of youth development.

Ten Cate was summoned to a meeting with chief executive Peter Kenyon yesterday morning at which he was told that all the leading candidates to succeed Grant had indicated that they did not want to keep him, preferring to appoint their own backroom staff.

In a statement Chelsea later confirmed the sacking. The club said: "As a result of the team management changes at Chelsea FC, and in the light of any forthcoming appointment, it was clear that this was the correct decision for all parties." Not that Ten Cate agreed. Although expected, his sacking has left him, according to friends, furious at how he has been treated by Chelsea especially as he claims to have been reassured last weekend by Kenyon that his job was safe.

Instead, his contract has been terminated after just seven months at Stamford Bridge with Grant's other assistant, Steve Clarke, likely to follow although, given his long-standing links with the club, which go back 20 years as player and coach, he may still survive if he accepts a reduced role.

Ten Cate earns £2m-a-year, making him the highest-paid assistant in club football, and his contract runs until 2010 which means he can expect to receive around £4m. Unlike Grant, who is due less than £2m in compensation, there does not appear to be a clear termination clause in his contract.

Even though Chelsea have the riches of Roman Abramovich behind them the brief employment of Ten Cate, who arrived from Ajax at the recommendation of Arnesen and the adviser Piet de Visser, and believed he had a chance one day of becoming the club's manager, has proved an expensive business.

But Ten Cate, with his abrasive style, proved unpopular with the Chelsea players, clashing with John Terry before the Carling Cup final as the captain defended midfielder John Obi Mikel, who he felt was being bullied. Ten Cate has upset many at the club with his aggression and earned the nickname "Mad Dog".

Ten Cate was Frank Rijkaard's assistant at Barcelona before he took the manager's job at Ajax and his departure will be perceived by some as a sign that his fellow Dutchman has no chance of replacing Grant. However Rijkaard is now closest to Johan Neeskens and would appoint him as his No 2 if he took over at Chelsea.

The pair have just left Barça – although they are contracted until the end of June – and Rijkaard is on holiday. He wants to take some time out before deciding his future and has not, as yet, been contacted by anyone at Chelsea.

It would appear Rijkaard is an outsider behind front-runners which include Luiz Felipe Scolari – as revealed in yesterday's Independent, the Portuguese Football Federation have confirmed Chelsea's interest – Mark Hughes, Guus Hiddink and Roberto Mancini. The latter's departure from Internazionale, where he will be replaced by Jose Mourinho, was finally confirmed yesterday. Discussions took place over Mancini's suitability several weeks ago but he has not been contacted.

Didier Deschamps has also claimed he is on a so-called short-list but a source close to the former Chelsea midfielder said there had been no contact with the club since the Frenchman registered his interest.

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