The Times says Mourinho and Abramovich are said to have exchanged strong words after the Blackburn Rovers game. Abramovich spent time searching for a replacement as their relationship soured at the end of last season, making a firm offer to Jurgen Klinsmann, but he reluctantly decided to give Mourinho one more season.

Mourinho - whose £5.2 million-a-year contract was to expire in 2010 - has long since concluded that he was not being allowed to do his job. His authority was undermined by Abramovich's decision to recruit Frank Arnesen from Tottenham Hotspur as director of scouting and youth development in May 2005 and further eroded by the signing of Andriy Shevchenko and the arrival of Avram Grant, who is well placed to take over as a caretaker manager.

Mourinho's departure brings to an end a stormy three-year reign during which he ended Chelsea's 50-year wait for the league title, following up with a second championship, but failed to realise Abramovich's dream of conquering Europe.