As the famous sign on the desk of US presidents has said for many years, 'The buck stops here.' And for Chelsea Football Club, the buck stops (well, stopped) with Mourinho, just as it stops with other managers at other football clubs. They are ultimately responsible for what happens on the pitch and what results are achieved. It can often be an unfair position, garnering unearned praise or vitriol for things that they do not directly control. They are not the ones playing, after all.
Mourinho paid the price for the squad's ridiculously bad start and slow recovery on Thursday, getting sacked by the club for the second time. And unlike the first time, this one definitely feels like a sacking, rather than a mutual agreement of sorts to go separate ways. Perhaps freed from some sort of burden — the burden of failing the manager, the burden of heaping more pressure on him, the burden of him placing more pressure on the players, etc; take your pick — Chelsea put in perhaps our best 90-minute performance of the season, if not the whole calendar year, despite a palpable amount tension and anger cascading down the rafters, from signs and banners and boos and jeers.
Tellingly, the two players who addressed Sky Sports' cameras after the match were none other than club captain John Terry and club vice-captain Branislav Ivanovic. They both understand that while it was Mourinho who was fired, it's the players who are ultimately responsible for putting in the work, to recover the season and win the fans back.
"We needed to win and we've done that. Second half was not as good but we are delighted with the three points."
"There was a lot of pressure before the game but we brought it on ourselves. Absolutely and rightly so as well. Chelsea is such a big club. We are not used to being here, we've had a lot of good times in the last 10 years. Rightly so the fans are disappointed and so are we, we don't want to be where we are."
"Guus Hiddink's training is very intense. He is a great man manager as well. Credit to all the players. Our thoughts are with the manager, because we are disappointed, it falls on his head unfortunately."
"I think we all deserve to be criticised and we all have responsibility. It's all abut the players and how they are on the pitch. The players put Chelsea in this position and the only way to change this position is up to the players."
"I can understand the frustration of the fans. It's normal."
"I think we all know what Jose Mourinho means for this club and nobody can change or speak about that. For us it was a very emotional day, but I think we have the support of everyone in the club."
"This club does not deserve to be in the position where we are now. But the only way to change this is we have to win the games, we have to get the points and get out of this situation. This club is all of us and this club cannot be in the position it is now."
There's been some talk of a leadership vacuum at Chelsea, but as long as JT and Bane are around, we probably don't need to worry too much. However, with Mourinho gone and presumably a new permanent manager coming in during the summer, and the contracts of both players expiring, we could very well see the final transition of the "Old Guard" at Chelsea.
Interesting times ahead, to be sure.