Players feel the pain of Mourinho exit
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Players feel the pain of Mourinho exit

Big-spending Chelsea could face a player backlash following the shock departure of controversial but popular coach Jose Mourinho.

sports Updated: Sep 22, 2007 15:47 IST

Big-spending Chelsea could face a player backlash following the shock departure of controversial but popular coach Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese coach sensationally left Stamford Bridge on Thursday by "mutual consent" after the club revealed there had been a "breakdown" in his relationship with the Chelsea hierarchy.

But Mourinho's influence is still huge at the English Premier League club, which attracted many top players because of Mourinho's reputation as a professional with a track record for winning.

His exit has left many players shocked ahead of this weekend's clash with champions Manchester United, ahead of which former Israel coach Avram Grant has been appointed as first team coach.

Defender Ricardo Carvalho, who arrived from FC Porto where he won the Champions League under Mourinho, was shocked and sad, and expressed his belief that the former manager was unsurpassed as a coach.

Carvalho said: "It is a very sad day for me and the team. I had a big offer from Real Madrid but I stayed at Chelsea because of Mourinho."

He added in the The Daily Mail: "For me there is no doubt, Jose Mourinho is the best coach in the world and I cannot believe that we have lost him.

"I never thought he would leave Chelsea without finishing his work, without achieving everything he wanted to.

"This is the first time he has ever done this and it will be terrible for him. He loved Chelsea.

"It has come as an enormous surprise to all the players.

"In the past few weeks the coach was unhappy because of our bad results but we were all working together towards a solution."

Midfielder Claude Makelele echoed Carvalho's shock although he admitted recent results had taken their toll on Mourinho.

Makelele told the Daily Star: "This news was like a bomb for me. I would never have believed we would see the exit of the coach just two months into the season.

"We have seen the tension on Mourinho with the results in the Premier League, but he was still confident.

"The new injuries had really hit the manager hard and you could see the anxiety grow as the results started to go wrong.

"I first heard the news after getting a text from a team-mate. I do not know the new manager that well but he is a football man and that is important for the future of Chelsea.

"He faces a big challenge because he will always be compared to Mourinho by the press and the fans."

According to several reports Chelsea's top striker Didier Drogba is "furious and upset" at Mourinho's exit.

If true, it could alert a number of top clubs who are already interested in the Ivoirian striker, Chelsea's top scorer last year with 33 goals.

Mourinho meanwhile insisted he was looking forward to returning to football, telling The Times: "I am waiting for the phone calls.

"I want to enjoy my life but I want to work."

The Portuguese coach has agreed a contract settlement with Chelsea thought to be worth around 20 million pounds (40 million dollars).

He insisted he will always have fond memories of his time at the London club.

"I am very proud of my work in Chelsea Football Club and I think my decision in May 2004 to come to England was an excellent one," Mourinho said.

"It was a beautiful and rich period of my career. I want to thank all Chelsea FC supporters for what I believe is a never-ending love story.

"I wish great success to the club, a club that will be forever connected to me for some historical moments.

"I wish the players happiness in football and in their family life. Finally on my wife's and children's behalf we thank the great professionalism of their school teachers and the beauty of so many friends."

Grant, previously the director of football at Stamford Bridge, was put in charge along with Mourinho's former assistant Steve Clarke.

It was not clear if Grant, a close friend of Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich, will be manager on a long-term basis, but the Israeli will be in charge when Chelsea face United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

First Published: Sep 22, 2007 15:47 IST