The Sunday Times:
The Chelsea manager has had enough of interference by Roman Abramovich's advisers and is prepared to leave the club immediately
Jose Morinho has told Roman Abramovich that he will leave the club immediately if his Russian employer pays up the entire outstanding value of his contract. The Portuguese manager renegotiated his contract in April 2005 and his 5½-year deal is worth £5.2m annually in basic wages and up to £2.5m (net) a season in performance bonuses. This would make any redundancy package the largest in football history at more than £25m.
Peter Kenyon, the club's chief executive, is also in danger of leaving Stamford Bridge. Kenyon has emerged as Mourinho's only supporter on the board, a position that has not gone down well with certain Abramovich advisers already questioning Kenyon's impact on the club.
While Chelsea insist no such discussions have taken place, barring a complete change of heart on Abramovich's part, Mourinho's departure from Chelsea before next season is now inevitable. Infuriated with board interference in team affairs — primarily over Andriy Shevchenko's role and transfer policy — Mourinho considers his working environment untenable and has allowed his agent to canvass offers of employment from other clubs. In conversations with leading European clubs, principally Real Madrid, his representative Jorge Mendes has offered to deliver what he is describing as "the dream package" of Mourinho and Frank Lampard to suitors. The England midfielder completes the third year of his existing deal in the summer, making him eligible to exploit a Fifa transfer regulation allowing footballers over the age of 28 to buy out their contracts. Mendes has calculated the buyout fee at €12m (£8m). Lampard has so far resisted Chelsea attempts to tie him to a "golden handcuffs" contract of £121,000 per week and is said to be intrigued by Spanish football.
Mourinho is refusing to talk in person with any of the interested parties to avoid a breach of contract that would jeopardise his payoff from Chelsea. Instead he has told Mendes he wants to concentrate on maximising the team's success in the four competitions still open to them.
Though he denied it yesterday, Mourinho has also been angered by the club's attempt to replace his assistant, Steve Clarke, with a Russian-speaking Israeli coach to help Shevchenko. Mourinho refused, requesting instead that Abramovich tell Shevchenko "to do some work for once".
Mourinho is particularly frustrated with the increasing influence of Abramovich's personal adviser on transfers, the Dutchman Piet de Visser, and the club's director of scouting, Frank Arnesen on first-team policy. Mourinho left Shevchenko out of Chelsea's squad for yesterday's game. The club claimed Shevchenko was unable to play with a hamstring injury.
Mourinho refused to directly answer questions about his future post-match. He said: "You cannot be 100% categorical about some issues. When I say the club is more important than me, the future of the club is important, my future is not important. At this moment everyone should think about the club not about themselves. The important thing is that everybody gives the maximum for the club. If everyone gives the maximum I think we can have a good future again."
Asked if everyone was doing so at present, he replied: "You have to ask them. People around me I can promise you, yes, we are together."
Abramovich is ready to pay Mourinho off but will offer far less than the full value of his contract. The club is understood to have held an emergency board meeting on Friday to discuss Mourinho's position. Kenyon, who rushed back from a trip to China, is thought to have asked all parties to consider a resolution that will not undermine Chelsea's season. Last night chairman Bruce Buck referred questions on Mourinho's future to a club press officer. Buck said: "The players know where everything stands, the coaches know where everyone stands, the management know where everyone stands."
Jose Mourinho's outburst following Chelsea's Carling Cup draw at Wycombe last week, which he repeated in an address to the club's fans yesterday, has forced Roman Abramovich to accept that he must spend on new players - and that they should be the manager's choice. This is a remarkable turnaround from the club's billionaire owner, whose relationship with Mourinho is so bad, said one of Mourinho's closest confidants in Portugal, that 'they only communicate through a third party'.
Last week Mourinho had complained that because of 'club reasons' he was not allowed to bring in the players he wanted. Although the comments were interpreted in some quarters as a dispute with the Chelsea board, the same close associate claims that Mourinho was actually aiming his barbs directly at Abramovich, who had refused to listen to the Portuguese coach and instead preferred his own advisers.
Three weeks ago Abramovich used the pages of The Observer to send a clear message to his manager when, in an exclusive interview, he said that Chelsea's big-spending days were over. The club has spent £276m on transfers since Abramovich's arrival, a year ahead of Mourinho, in 2003. Now, said Abramovich, 'our strategy is to bring up our own players through the academy, which we have invested a lot in, and we hope that will give results'.
The catalyst for the breakdown in relations between the owner and the self-styled 'Special One' was the arrival of Andriy Shevchenko from Milan in the summer for £30m, a signing that made Mourinho 'very, very angry', explained the source. There was further trouble when the owner tried to bring in a new coach - 'an Israeli whom Abramovich trusts' - believed to be Avram Grant, the Portsmouth director of football, to work with Shevchenko. This would have undermined the position of ~Steve Clarke, Mourinho's assistant. Whether Mourinho will stay beyond the end of this season is still in doubt. The coach is believed to be planning a move to Real Madrid, where Fabio Capello is seen as dispensable, in the summer.
Before yesterday's 4-0 rout of Wigan, Mourinho used his column in the match programme to criticise the club's refusal to spend in the January transfer window. 'Are you ready to enjoy us playing with 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds and still be chasing prizes?' he wrote. After the game, he described as 'nonsense' reports that his assistant Steve Clarke might lose his job. But he added: 'If the club would try to do that, they would have to do it to me and him.' Mourinho rejected Abramovich's move for Grant and will now get the players he wishes.
'Since Wednesday, he [Abramovich] has realised Jose needs to bring in players during this transfer window. There will definitely be a central defender, and maybe a striker,' said the source. 'Those in power now want to bring some peace to the club. This has been about who is really the big boss. And at the moment, especially when you see the result against Wigan, Jose will not be resigning.'