Head coach Graham Potter has been sacked by Chelsea following defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday that dropped them into the bottom half of the Premier League table.
The 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge drew angry calls from home supporters for the manager to go after the team’s poor run of form extended to just four wins from 19 games in the league.
A club statement read: “Chelsea FC has announced that Graham Potter has departed the club. Graham has agreed to collaborate with the club to facilitate a smooth transition.
“In his time with the club, Graham has taken us to the quarter-final of the Champions League, where we will face Real Madrid.
“Chelsea would like to thank Graham for all his efforts and contribution and wish him well for the future.”
Potter had briefly looked to have revived his ailing tenure with three-consecutive wins before the international break, including victory against Borussia Dortmund that saw the side reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
It lent weight to the backing the former Brighton boss had enjoyed from owner Todd Boehly and his Clearlake Capital consortium.
However, confidence that he was the right man for the job was tested to its limit by the loss to Villa, which yet again saw Chelsea struggle to live up to expectations set by Boehly’s mammoth £566million transfer spend.
He is likely to remain in charge for both legs of the Champions League last-eight meeting with Real Madrid whilst recruitment chiefs Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart conduct the search for a successor.
The PA news agency understands the decision to remove Potter was taken on Sunday by Winstanley and Stewart with the unanimous backing of Boehly and co-owner Behdad Eghbali.
The lack of progress evident in recent performances is believed to have been the catalyst for the board to move after weeks of pressure from supporters.
Potter was appointed in September taking over from Champions League-winning manager Thomas Tuchel, whose relationship with the owners soured after a difficult pre-season tour to the United States. Senior players later admitted it was the worst pre-season they had experienced.
The club paid £21.5m in compensation to Brighton in order to release Potter and his backroom staff, a record fee paid by an English club for a manager and second only to the figure stumped up by Bayern Munich in 2021 for Julian Nagelsmann.
There was a sincere belief amongst the owners that Potter could ultimately get the best out of the players and that he was a suitable long-term appointment.
The recent good performances of new signings Benoit Badiashile, Joao Felix and record-buy Enzo Fernandez suggested that faith might be well held.
However, Chelsea’s drop into the bottom half – plus their continued struggles in front of goal that have led to Stamford Bridge being the top-flight ground with the lowest number of goals seen this season – made his position untenable.
A permanent appointment is not expected to be imminent, though Nagelsmann, who was dismissed by Bundesliga champions Bayern in March and is currently without a club, is likely to be amongst the names under consideration.