Chelsea are preparing for Jose Mourinho’s departure following Saturday’s implosion at West Ham.
Just three weeks after Roman Abramovich publicly backed the Portuguese following a poor start to the season, Mourinho’s job is back under review by the Blues board.
It is possible that Mourinho will be given this week to save his job with a Capital One Cup clash versus Stoke and the home league visit of Liverpool on the horizon but a decision could come before then.
A defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s side on Saturday would likely spell the end of his second spell at Stamford Bridge.
Sportsmail understands the wheels have been set in motion for Mourinho’s exit after their season hit rock-bottom in the 2-1 defeat at Upton Park. Chelsea are 15th in the Premier League and have lost six matches already.
The prevalent issue of a severance package for Mourinho has already been discussed by club chiefs. Mourinho signed a new four-year deal worth £30million in August and Chelsea are obviously reluctant to pay him the full amount of his deal should they sack him.
Likewise, the matter of Mourinho’s potential successor needs to be determined.
The lack of high-quality available managers is known to be a concern for the Chelsea hierarchy.
Nevertheless, the fact the former Real Madrid manager is under huge pressure has not gone unnoticed by some of Europe’s top managers.
Chelsea are understood to have been contacted by a number of intermediaries on behalf of bosses interested in replacing Mourinho.
Former manager Carlo Ancelotti, who is on sabbatical, is understood to be interested in a return to Stamford Bridge, though it remains to be seen whether Abramovich would consider the Italian.
Likewise, the appointment of ex-boss Guus Hiddink – who is also out of work – could also be a short-term option.
Appointing a boss until the end of the season would allow the club to reassess the managerial landscape in the summer when Pep Guardiola or Diego Simeone may be available.
Following the defeat by Southampton on October 3, the Chelsea board decided to review the situation after a further three games.
The sequence has seen Chelsea beat Aston Villa, draw at Dynamo Kiev and lose at West Ham. And there is anger behind the scenes at the indiscipline shown by Mourinho and his players on Saturday. Abramovich dislikes anything that damages the club’s image.
Mourinho has already caused controversy by axing club doctor Eva Carneiro and regularly ranting at referees, with the latest tirade causing him to be sent to the stands on Saturday.