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Jose Mourinho fired by Chelsea

His ninth loss of the season left Roman Abramovich little choice.

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Just 16 Premier League games into his third season as Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho has been fired by the club. They sit 16th in the Premier League after Monday's 2-1 loss to Leicester City, their ninth of the season.

Getting rid of Mourinho is going to cost Chelsea a lot of money. He was just a few months into a contract that would have paid him £40 million ($61.3 million USD), though Gabriele Marcotti says it had an early out clause. If he doesn't accept a new job in the next four years, Chelsea will owe Mourinho somewhere between £20-40 million. No one expects Mourinho to walk away from the sport, but he has every incentive to take a break or wait for the perfect opportunity.

This season has featured the first time since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea that they have lost three Premier League games in a row. Mourinho refused to speak to the media after a loss to West Ham United in October, for which he was fined. A week later, he lost again, to top-four rivals Liverpool, which is when rumors of his potential sacking started to emerge. Chelsea have lost three more times since then, including their last two in a row.

This was Mourinho's second spell at Chelsea. He first managed them from the summer of 2004 to September of 2007, through just over three seasons. He won the Premier League and League Cup twice, as well as the FA Cup once during that spell, but had repeated disagreements with Abramovich about transfer and team selection policy.

Following his first spell at Chelsea, Mourinho found success in Italy and Spain. He won a European treble with Inter Milan, then went on to win a La Liga and Copa del Rey title with Real Madrid before returning to Chelsea.

Fans were satisfied with Mourinho's first season in charge, even though he didn't win a trophy, and their patience paid off last season when Chelsea won the Premier League and League Cup. But the Blues struggled in Champions League, the competition Mourinho hasn't been able to win during either of his spells with Chelsea.

During the summer, Chelsea spent on youth, but opted not to sign senior players in midfield or defense, leaving them thin. Mourinho's decision to play Kenedy and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in a loss to Crystal Palace on Aug. 30 was widely seen as a message to upper management to add talent at the transfer deadline. But value signing Papy Djilobodji was the only defender acquired, while no new midfielders were added.

Signs of turmoil were already apparent two months ago. Someone seemingly inside Chelsea leaked a story to every credible Chelsea reporter in England that players were mad at Mourinho for making certain players into scapegoats. A few days later, Mourinho turned defiant, saying that he was Chelsea's best ever manager and that sacking him would let the players off the hook. Abramovich backed Mourinho, but after the Leicester loss, Mourinho openly insulted his players.

And now, it's time for speculation about Mourinho's replacement. The most obvious candidate is Diego Simeone, currently at Atlético Madrid. Los Rojiblancos signed him to a contract extension this summer, so it'll cost quite a bit to hire him. Carlo Ancelotti recently turned down an interview at Liverpool, stating that he wanted to take the rest of the year off and would be open to taking a position next season. Pep Guardiola's contract is expiring at Bayern Munich, but he's unlikely to leave before the end of the season. If he can't get Simeone, Abramovich is faced with a difficult decision between hiring a coach not currently at the top of the profession or appointing a temporary boss and waiting for the summer.

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