Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Chelsea, the team announced Thursday.
The manager known as “The Special One” took the Blues to the Premier League title last season, but sit just 16th this year, one point ahead of the relegation zone. It is the worst start by a defending champion in Premier League history, and never good enough for mercurial owner Roman Abramovich, who has now fired eight managers since 2003.
According to multiple reports in the British media, Dutchman Guus Hiddink is expected to return to London as the caretaker manager. He performed the same role in 2009, taking over for Luis Felipe Scolari, and led the team to the FA Cup. He has a chance at greater glory this time, with Chelsea through to the round-of-16 in the Champions League.
For Mourinho, considered one of the two best managers in the world, this continues his streak of third-year flameouts at high-profile jobs. In his first stint at Chelsea, he won the Premier League in his first two seasons, but failed to do so in his third season and was angered when Abramovich appointed Avram Grant as Director of Football.
Mourinho survived the turmoil and won both the 2007 FA and League Cups, but was fired early in the 2007-08 season.
At Inter Milan, he avoided third-year problems by leaving after a second season that saw his team win a second Serie A title and the Champions League, but it came up again at Real Madrid. After winning La Liga in his second season, Madrid finished 15 points behind Barcelona in 2012-13, were eliminated in the Champions League semifinals by Borussia Dortmund and lost the Copa Del Rey final to cross-town rival Atlético Madrid. Following the season, he was sacked by team president Florentino Pérez.
Mourinho was just four months into a 4-year, $52-million contract with Chelsea.