By Editor Wayne Veysey | Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this
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Roman Abramovich has told the Chelsea hierarchy to begin the search for a new manager, Football Insider sources understand.
The Chelsea owner is ready to dispense with Jose Mourinho after leading talks with the Chelsea board over the last 24 hours.
A Chelsea source has told Football Insider that Abramovich would prefer a permanent successor but is willing to sanction a move for an interim manager.
Mourinho might stay on until the weekend, when Chelsea host Sunderland in the Premier League, and possibly longer until a deal is agreed with a new man.
But Abramovich and the Chelsea executives are now convinced that the club’s decline is such that Mourinho is unable to turn it around.
The manager’s position leaped back to the top of the agenda after Chelsea slipped to their ninth Premier League defeat of the season on Monday night to leave them marooned in 16th in the table, just one point above the relegation zone.
The Portugese lashed out at his players in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat at Leicester by accusing them of “betrayal” for failing to follow his instructions.
It was the latest in a series of public criticisms made of his squad by Mourinho, who has pointed the finger at a number of his big-name flops this season.
Chelsea chiefs are privately astonished by the strength of the language used by the manager and believe he has now lost the dressing room.
Although there is a view at the top of the club that the players have woefully under-performed this season, such public criticism is regarded as counter-productive ahead of future matches.
Nevertheless, Chelsea recruitment source has told Football Insider that, even if the Portugese is fired, up to nine players are set to be shipped out and replaced in a drastic overhaul of the team that cakewalked to the title just seven months ago.
John Terry, Cesc Fabregas, Branislav Ivanovic, Oscar, Radamel Falcao, John Obi Mikel and Loic Remy could all leave, while the futures of star men Eden Hazard and Diego Costa are also in serious doubt.
Whatever happens with his own position, Mourinho has persuaded Abramovich and the club hierarchy that a shake-up of the squad is needed to drag them to the next level.