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All the insider info on Mourinho's sacking that's fit to print

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It was Christmas come early for the football media world on Thursday, as the Chelsea owner, no doubt on advice of his inner circle, did decide to "change with the with the wind" and give Mourinho his marching orders.  The club called it a "mutual agreement" in the official statement, but Technical Director Michael Emenalo's interview with Chelsea TV left no doubt about whom he (they? the Board? other advisors?) blame for the situation.  Emenalo's appearance, as ill-advised and ill-timed and tone deaf as it was does at least give us the story that Chelsea would want us to hear.

But that's just a broad overview.  That's not enough to sell papers.  The world is hungry for details.  That's why Sky News had a helicopter circling and hovering over Cobham, waiting for Mourinho's appearance.  And full-on stalker mode wasn't even activated until a figure in a dark hoodie got into Mourinho's chauffeured car.

One gets the feeling that no one enjoyed Thursday more than everyone's favorite Daily Mail journalist, Neil Ashton.  Cranking out upwards of half a dozen, if not more, hard-hitting pieces, his crowning achievement is no doubt the blow-by-blow account of Mourinho's final hours at Chelsea.

It was a dark and stormy night, he begins.  He doesn't, actually, but he may as well have.  Had the sacking not occured midday.  Who sacks a manager midday, anyway?  Doesn't the song go, "sacked in the morning"?  You'd think we'd know by now how to do it properly.  Anyway, grab that popcorn, here comes Neil.

Jose Mourinho was sacked after pulling crackers and eating roast turkey with Chelsea's coaching staff and players at the club's silver service Christmas lunch on Thursday.

This "pulling crackers" and "roast turkey" must be very important because it gets repeated again just a few short paragraphs later.

Mourinho was summoned to a meeting in the main building with Abramovich, chairman Bruce Buck and director Eugene Tenenbaum, having pulled crackers and eaten roast turkey. The exchange, which lasted less than 10 minutes, concluded weeks of talks between Chelsea's lawyers, Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes and the manager's legal team over his £250,000-a-week contract.

Wonder if one of the Christmas crackers said, "come upstairs; you've been a naughty boy."  Note the lack of Granovskaia in that paragraph, which actually jives with The Sun's report that she was Mourinho's last supporter in the inner circle.  But back to Ashton.

Within minutes, he was out of a job after a short conversation with the Russian owner and the two directors. Mourinho soon left with his belongings, including a life-size cardboard cut-out and a ‘Special One' mug.

Is this an episode of The Office?  If you want, the Mail even have a helpful timeline with exact time stamps and everything.

Apparently training was tense and conducted in a dark mood, but nobody could've prepared the players for the horrors to come.  Or something.  Classic Chelsea to have Mourinho conduct training in the morning and then sack him in the afternoon.  At least we didn't do it in the Goodison Park tunnel or on the flight home from Juventus at 3am this time around.

More explosive details from Neil Ashton's fly on the wall:

When Jose Mourinho angrily confronted two senior members of the Chelsea board after their 2-1 defeat at West Ham on October 24 he had a chilling message for the owner Roman Abramovich. Mourinho's words - 'pay me and I will go' - were taken so seriously during the volatile exchange that the lawyers acting for Chelsea were immediately put on notice.

Mourinho's exit, which was confirmed shortly after he was summoned to a meeting with chairman Bruce Buck and director Eugene Tenenbaum in the main building at the training ground, has been in the works since that explosive moment at Upton Park.

"Chilling."  Neil Ashton is the Herodotus of football.

For weeks the club have been privately pulling the players to one side, discreetly sounding them out about the differences between the dressing room and their hugely-successful coach. None of it was good.

In recent weeks he has pushed Thibaut Courtois, Ramires and captain Terry to the limits, rushing them back off the treatment table and back into the team.

"To the limits."  Courtois returned exactly on schedule as was predicted back when he had surgery on his knee.  Ramires and Terry both missed time with seemingly minor knocks when, especially the former, had become a key cog in a slowly improving midfield.

[Mourinho's] downfall can be traced to Costa's spectacular row with Mourinho in front of the first team players after he returned to training a day late following the 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace that won them them title.

Mourinho gave the players four days off to celebrate the title triumph, but Costa stretched Mourinho's patience by taking an authorized fifth day. Costa had been in Spain partying with friends and Mourinho had shown him a social media picture of him during the volatile scenes between the pair.

Diego Costa, front and center.  That's undroppable Diego Costa (until the very end), mind you.

Back on the training ground Mourinho had taken to delegating responsibility to his staff, rarely engaging with anyone who was on the fringes of the first team.  Outside of his own inner circle, comprising Portuguese assistants Rui Faria, Silvio Louro and Felipe Morais, he did not take the time to get to know the names of the scores of staff who work at the training ground. He could be rude and abrupt, at any given time.

In front of the cameras he could still turn on the charm, with that twinkle in his eye betraying some of the training ground's darkest secrets.

"Darkest secrets."  And that's before we even talk about the dungeon.  You know, beneath Stamford Bridge.  Where Ashley Cole lives.

During international weeks, when most of the squad were away, the Under-21 coaching staff were brought over from the academy to take the training. During those periods Mourinho's staff put their feet up.

Remember when Dermot Drummy, former Chelsea U21 manager would talk about opportunities to work with the first-team players and staff?  Apparently that was just laziness on Mourinho's part.  And then there's this bit, where apparently Steve Holland was the only one to "stand up" to Mourinho.  Whatever that means.

I'm not even sure at this point whether to laugh or cry or just stare dumbfounded at everything that's happened in the last 12-15 hours.  Best manager in the world.  Premier League champions.  Relegation battle.  Sacking.  In a way, that last bit at least is a normal state of being for Chelsea Football Club.