Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has told his players that he did not want to sack Jose Mourinho but was left with little choice after the Blues made the worst start to a title defence in Premier League history.
The Portuguese manager was shown the door by Abramovich on Thursday with the club just a point above the dropzone following a run of nine defeats in 16 games.
The Russian billionaire arrived at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground on Friday and watched the team’s morning training session before giving a speech in his native tongue which was translated to English by an interpreter.
In his address, according to the Daily Mail, Abramovich told the squad that he had been “reluctant” to sack Mourinho but was forced to act after Monday’s 2-1 loss at Leicester City left them 20 points behind the table-topping Foxes.
Abramovich added that the team would now have a “fresh start” and he expected to see “immediate improvements” on the pitch.
Guus Hiddink is expected to be appointed interim manager until the end of the season and will watch Saturday afternoon’s game with Sunderland at Stamford Bridge from the stands.