The final games of Chelsea’s last seven managers before getting the sack
Chelsea have got through more managers than most big clubs during the Premier League era.
If we include interim appointments, the Blues are well into double figures since the arrival of Roman Abramovich as owner in 2003. Even without the likes of Guus Hiddink and Rafa Benitez, installed in temporary charge, they’re pretty close.
With Maurizio Sarri thought to be on thin ice, we have taken a look at the games which spelled the end for the seven men appointed as permanent Chelsea manager before the Italian.
José Mourinho – Chelsea 1-1 Rosenborg
After a first-first-second run in the Premier League, Chelsea’s poor start to the 2007-08 season under Mourinho was a surprise to many.
Indeed, when the Blues picked up 10 points from their first four league games, nothing seemed wrong, but it soon became clear things were not going swimmingly between Abramovich and the manager.
Some of the summer signings were confusing to say the least – Tal Ben-Haim and Steve Sidwell on frees, to name but two – and defeat to Aston Villa followed by a draw at home to Blackburn was enough for the mood to drop going into the Champions League campaign.
His departure was probably as close to a proper ‘mutual consent’ exit as Chelsea have had, but it followed a disappointing result in Europe. Miikka Koppinen’s opener was equaliser by Andriy Shevchenko, as just 25,000 were at Stamford Bridge to witness the Portuugese’s final game of his first spell.
Avram Grant – Chelsea 1-1 Man Utd
Yes, Grant was technically a permanent appointment, however temporary he must have seemed in retrospect.
Considering how things looked when the Israeli took over, and how much he achieved in his time in west London, the decision from Abramovich to strip Uncle Avram of his duties and offer him his old director of football gig back almost seems harsh.
After seeing off Olympiakos, Fenerbahçe and Liverpool in the Champions League knockout stages, he came within one John Terry penalty of glory, only to instead be fired within a week.
Luiz Felipe Scolari – Chelsea 0-0 Hull City
Well this was an unmitigated disaster, wasn’t it, although Ashley Cole recently named Scolari as his favourite Chelsea manager alongside Carlo Ancelotti.
Big Phil’s Chelsea sat fourth in the league table when he was given his marching orders, 10 years almost to the day before Sarri’s Blues lost 6-0 at Manchester City, and yet 10 wins from the first 13 games had seen them top the table in mid-November.
Two late Fernando Torres goals for Liverpool the previous week had set the tone, but the final blow was dealt when Chelsea were held at home by a Hull side with one point from its previous seven games and no clean sheets in its previous 15.
Guus Hiddink came in and won 11 from 13 in the league, but the damage had been done.
Carlo Ancelotti – Everton 1-0 Chelsea
Ancelotti’s exit was more or less confirmed three games from the end of the season, when a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United all but ensured the Red Devils would end the season as champions.
Things could and would get worse, though, with Steven Taylor’s stoppage time equaliser preventing the Italian from earning a win in his last game at Stamford Bridge and Jermaine Beckford scoring the only goal of the game for David Moyes’ Everton on May 22.
Ancelotti was sacked that same day but things had been effectively settled earlier in the week: André Villas-Boas’ Porto had won the Europa League final, meaning Chelsea were primed to hire a winner in the former Milan boss’ stead.
André Villas-Boas – West Brom 1-0 Chelsea
Fans might have hoped for some stability and longevity under AVB. They got anything but that.
Back-to-back defeats in October gave people cause for concern – first, nine-man Chelsea lost to QPR, and then John Terry’s slip put the gloss on a 5-3 Arsenal win at Stamford Bridge.
A 3-1 defeat in Naples in the Champions League put Villas-Boas’ future on a knife-edge, though, and Gareth McAuley dealt the final blow with his winner at the Hawthorns.
Abramovich will claim he ditched his manager at the perfect time, though: interim boss Roberto Di Matteo might have struggled in the league, but a 4-1 second-leg win over Napoli set the Blues on their way to the most unlikely of Champions League successes.
Roberto Di Matteo – Juventus 3-0 Chelsea
Di Matteo’s European success might have earned him a permanent deal, but it soon became clear that was a mistake.
He broke new ground again in the 2012-13 season, but not in a good way, as Chelsea became the first ever holders to be eliminated from the Champions League in the group stages.
The Italian was sacked as soon as Chelsea’s European future was out of their hands – Shakhtar would not end up doing his interim successor Rafa Benitez any favours in gameweek six – but things weren’t going swimmingly in the league either.
A strong start had dissipated, thanks in no small part to a controversial Fernando Torres red card against Manchester United, and defeat to West Brom had seen the Blues drop to fourth in the league before European goals from Fabio Quagliarella, Arturo Vidal and Sebastian Giovinco brought about Di Matteo’s demise.
José Mourinho – Leicester City 2-1 Chelsea
Most Chelsea managers were still flying relatively high when Abramovich ran out of patience, but Mourinho’s second exit left the club in genuine relegation trouble.
The reigning Premier League champions had somehow contrived to lose nine of their first 16 league games, winning just four, though they’d done enough to win their Champions League group.
Bournemouth’s Glenn Murray had brought Mourinho one step closer to the exit with his winner at Stamford Bridge before champions-elect Leicester would deal the final blow.
The last Chelsea player to score for the club under Mourinho? Loïc Rémy. We think that tells its own story.
Mourinho's last Chelsea post-match interview
Makes you think 🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/DY98ieLtfm
— Daniel Tiluk (@danieltiluk) February 11, 2019
Antonio Conte – Chelsea 1-0 Man Utd
We knew Conte was going long before his final game. Back-to-back three-goal defeats against Bournemouth and Watford should have been the end of him, but he struggled on until the end of the season, when Chelsea were beaten 3-0 by Newcastle in their final Premier League fixture.
But there was still the small matter of the FA Cup final, with the Blues pitted against a Manchester United side which had finished 11 points ahead of them in the league.
And yet Chelsea’s players – inspired by a brilliant performance from Eden Hazard – turned it on one final time for Conte to pull off a sweet upset against former boss Mourinho.