Avram Grant, the former Israel manager, yesterday led his first training session since taking charge of the first team. He will face Manchester United on Sunday and has been told it is his job to lose.
Abramovich will entrust his team to Grant and Steve Clarke, who remains assistant manager. The billionaire was in Cobham yesterday with his lieutenant Eugene Tenenbaum to congratulate Grant on his promotion from director of football.
In contrast to Mourinho, Grant will be willing to accommodate the owner's demands - the first being to produce attractive football. "[Abramovich] won't pick the team but he will be more aware of the team [than under Mourinho]," said the source. "It is the Russian way: they like to be the boss when they are paying for things.
"Mourinho made mistakes but at the beginning of the season everything was very bright. The personal relationship between Abramovich and Mourinho looked very positive. Everyone was happy but then they lost games, and results and performances, when he had promised to change the system for much more entertaining football, changed that."