Jose Mourinho’s sacking by Chelsea was depicted as an early Christmas carve up on Friday as the British press reported he had been let go after a holiday lunch with players.
“Jose gets stuffed: Christmas lunch with team … then Mourinho’s sacked after losing toxic dressing room,” wrote the Daily Mirror.
“Carved up at festive feast” was one headline in the Daily Mail.
“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 yesterday.”
The Sun’s sport back page headline simply read “STUFFED.”
Many of the newspapers made the most of Mourinho’s reputation as a superstar manager with a huge personality and ego.
“Farewell, then, Jose Mourinho,” began coverage by sports writer Barney Ronay on the front page of the Guardian.
“It’s been glorious, fun, noisy, toxic and interminable. Not to mention bad-tempered, hair-raising and, in keeping with Mourinho’s own status as the first real global celebrity-superstar of his trade, gloriously overblown to the last.”
The Telegraph put the “Not so special” on its front page, a reference to Mourinho’s nickname “The Special One.”
The Independent wrote “Sacked again. Now that is special …” while The Sun dubbed him “The Broken One.”
The Daily Mail reported that he would be “laughing all the way to the bank” because of a compensation package. Its front page read “Man with God complex exits with £10m.”
The news dominated front and back headlines of the newspapers and was given many pages of coverage and analysis as a national drama. Even Prime Minister David Cameron reacted, with his spokesman pointing the manager towards how to get his next position.
“The Prime Minister is always sad to see anyone lose their job, but it’s worth reflecting on this week’s labor market statistics, which demonstrated that there are over 740,000 vacancies in the UK economy,” the spokesman said.
Unusually for a sports story, the Financial Times carried the story on its front page, with the headline “Mourinho red-carded by Chelsea after ultimate winner acquires losing habit.”
Analysis reflected on Mourinho’s strained relationship with some players and the role of owner Roman Abramovich.
“He had tried everything to keep the Cult of Jose going through these months of deepening malaise but key players had tired of him, his voice, his methods, his demands,” wrote Times sports writer Matt Dickinson.
Telegraph sports writer Paul Hayward had a warning for Mourinho’s replacement at Chelsea.
“Abramovich’s default mode is to never back his manager ahead of his players. He takes the easy route of firing the figurehead,” Hayward wrote.
“This is the wrong type of power to put in the wrong hands, and the next man in better watch his back.”
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