Player power did Jose in, says Neil Humphreys
Chelsea's cry-babies kill every manager they are not happy with
Even the greatest manager in Chelsea's history succumbed in the end.
The preening prima donnas rule once more at Stamford Bridge, killing off the latest coach to reassert their power.
The fact that the manager happened to be Jose Mourinho, the mercurial magician who conjured three league titles, an FA Cup and three League Cup in two spells, is a mild embarrassment, but the pain will soon pass.
Mourinho's inevitable sacking underlines the dangerous precedent that the club set when a Russian billionaire bought a weekend plaything and made pals with his beloved players.
Roman Abramovich set down the unworkable ground rules from the beginning.
His door was always open to those artists he coveted and adored. Managers were expendable, even talented, inspirational, enigmatic managers like Mourinho.
The Portuguese made many, many mistakes this season, which have been endlessly addressed and dissected for weeks now, but the elephants in the dressing room remain - far too many of them.
The balance of power rests with the senior players. And incoming signings and promoted juniors doff their caps in deference to the senior players.
It's a volatile system that succeeds in the short term, but cannot be sustained for the most obvious of reasons.
In the English Premier League's cut-throat game of thrones, power belongs to the man in the big chair, along with respect, dignity and a mandate to manage and make sweeping changes when required.
The Blues are effectively run by a committee of millionaire footballers.
According to many reports - none of which were denied - Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry, among others, complained to the sweetest of sugar daddies in the boardroom about the big, bad disciplinarian Luiz Felipe Scolari.
The Brazilian lost his job soon after. Andre Villas-Boas met the same fate after a similar list of complaints landed on Abramovich's game.
Mourinho has hinted of the dark arts being at play in the dressing room all season long. The Portuguese pedant is often his own worst enemy when it comes to pointless spats, but his talk of betrayal had more than a ring of authenticity.
Someone was leaking stories to the press. Since pre-season, when Mourinho was rewarded for giving a longer holiday to his title-winning charges, with Diego Costa coming back overweight and others returning half asleep, there was a mole in the camp.
To speculate on the informer's identity is an exercise in futility now, but the depth and breadth of the stories suggested there was more than one discontented source.
Mourinho had struggled with Spanish politics, with some senior Real Madrid players closer to Marca journalists than their own manager, but this was entirely unexpected.
He thought he was coming home. But the Bridge morphed into a personal hell pretty quickly.
His players stopped playing for him this season. Whenever Mourinho lost the media, the neutrals or public goodwill, he usually kept the dressing room until the bitter end, whatever the country, whatever the circumstances.
But in this instance, he was right. He was betrayed.
At the weekend, Cesc Fabregas sat through one of the most excruciating British TV interviews in recent history with Thierry Henry, begrudging in his praise for both Arsene Wenger and Mourinho.
For reasons that may become clear in the fallout, Fabregas has been more of an imposter than an inspiration. He's played the tortured artist to the point of cliche, struggling with each and every formation or tactical tweak as his exasperated manager sought to motivate the Spaniard.
But Fabregas did not improve. Neither did Nemanja Matic.
It's hard to recall a more alarming or rapid decline in form than the one suffered by the Serb.
The definitive midfield enforcer in the modern game, Matic knitted Mourinho's stubborn lines together with the grace of an old seamstress. But it unravelled in a matter of weeks.
Chelsea's rock imploded, as if the man himself had sat on the detonator. From one of the most astute January signings in Premier League history to midfield liability, Matic's dramatic fall essentially mirrored that of his club.
Without an anchor, the vessel listed quickly. With Matic and Fabregas flailing, Chelsea ceded possession and the initiative to the likes of Crystal Palace, Everton, Southampton, West Ham, Bournemouth and Leicester.
A fair argument can be made for Mourinho's destabilising habit of turning mavericks such as Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian into back-tracking cogs, heavy on industry, but light in improvisation.
But Chelsea's template has varied little from last season. Even allowing for fatigue and Mourinho's preference for fielding the same group of players for much of the campaign, the drop in standards was no less shocking.
Current and former footballers have been queuing up to essentially say the same thing. That non-performance against Leicester wasn't tiredness. It was almost a tantrum.
Chelsea didn't play. What was once a muddle had turned into a mutiny. Remember how Scolari's clowns turned into Guus Hiddink's cup winners? Or how about the time when Villas-Boas' weary old men suddenly became world-beaters under Roberto Di Matteo, picking up the Champions League trophy when six months earlier they couldn't pick their noses?
Or, more recently, there were Mourinho's magnificent men, coasting to the title and then flirting with relegation in the same calendar year.
In all three instances, the personnel were essentially the same. Only the temperament had changed. The players pouted, stomped their feet in the boardroom until Uncle Abramovich had promised them a new manager and maybe some sweeties at bedtime.
Anyone who has played Premier League football was of the same opinion yesterday. Champions wobble. Ageing players regress. Managers run out of ideas and campaigns falter. But title winners do not find themselves a point above the relegation zone at Christmas.
That's not a wobble. That's a revolt within the ranks. The Blues downed tools and went on strike.
Chairmen usually axe managers. But Chelsea's real powerbrokers stabbed Mourinho in the back.
Thank you doesn’t seem enough. Sad sad day. Gonna miss you Boss. The very best I have EVER worked with, unbelievable memories together.
— Chelsea captain John Terry in an Instgram message to Jose Mourinho
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Hiddink in talks with Chelsea
GOLDEN GUUS: Hiddink, who won the FA Cup with Chelsea in 2009 (above), arriving at London Heathrow Airport yesterday (below). PHOTOS: ACTION IMAGES, INTERNET SCREENSHOT
Guus Hiddink has reportedly flown to London ahead of his appointment as Chelsea's interim manager until the end of the season.
The Daily Mail carried a picture of the veteran Dutchman arriving at the London Heathrow Airport yesterday and reported that he will lead the club until the end of the season as the Blues' No. 1 target - Diego Simeone - is out of reach until at least the summer.
According to the BBC, the 69-year-old is in a London hotel "holding discussions with Blues officials".
Hiddink "is yet to sign a contract but is set to become manager on an interim basis," it said.
The former Holland coach told De Telegraaf: "I want to get some good insight before I make my decision.
"I want as much information as possible. Chelsea are in a bad situation and there are reasons for that.
"Whether or not I'm visiting their next match depends on my first conversation. Then I'll decide if I should stay in London longer."
Hiddink led Chelsea to an FA Cup victory over Everton in May 2009 after owner Roman Abramovich appointed the experienced boss to replace Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Hiddink won 17 of his 23 games in charge of the Stamford Bridge outfit, giving him a win percentage of just under 74.
He has coached Turkey, Anzhi Makhachkala and Holland since his short-term spell in west London.
He left his role with Holland at the end of June after failing to lead his country to next summer's European Championship in France.
Former Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins believes Hiddink is the "absolutely perfect" choice to rescue the Blues' faltering season in the wake of Jose Mourinho's exit.
"As an interim manager, he would love the challenge, I'm sure," Wilkins said on talkSPORT.
"He would be the one person I would say would be absolutely perfect to come in to the end of the season and straighten them out."
Looking ahead to tonight's visit of Sam Allardyce's Sunderland, Wilkins noted: "Sunderland aren't in the best form, they're struggling a bit, and Stamford Bridge is probably the worst place they could possibly go to after this has happened."
Mourinho's departure follows nine defeats in 16 league games this term - results that have caused a shocking descent into the relegation mire.
Wilkins feels the squad need to take their share of responsibility.
"I honestly do believe the players need to take a lot of blame for this as well because they really haven't performed. The only player who's performed on any sort of consistent level is Willian.
"With the ball, more often than not there's no problem. But, without the ball, they've not done half as much as they should have done. They've not worked hard enough." - Wire Services.
His contract with Bayern Munich ends next summer and he's linked with Manchester City. But Chelsea may still try to tempt him.
The Italian is available after leaving Real Madrid. He was popular at Stamford Bridge and apparently wishes to return to England.
Chelsea have looked to Atletico Madrid for players - now for a manager? The Argentinian has shown his mettle.
The Italy boss may not move ahead of Euro 2016, but reportedly has admirers among the Chelsea hierarchy.
The autocratic Italian is out of work after leaving Russia and could be an interim option.
The Italian led Juventus to the Serie A title and Champions League final in 2015 but he's a ranked outsider. - PA Sport.