Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has left the club "by mutual consent" after the defending Premier League champions suffered their ninth defeat of the season, the club announced on Thursday.
Seven months removed from their title, Chelsea have earned just 15 points from their first 16 league games and are in 16th place in the table. They are only one point above the relegation zone after losing 1-0 to newly promoted Bournemouth two weeks ago and 2-1 to table-topping Leicester on Monday night.
Sources told ESPN FC that intense discussions over Mourinho's position took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the club announced that he had left on Thursday. The manager's news conference scheduled for Friday has now been canceled.
Chelsea's statement read: "Chelsea Football Club and Jose Mourinho have today parted company by mutual consent. All at Chelsea thank Jose for his immense contribution since he returned as manager in the summer of 2013.
"His three league titles, FA Cup, Community Shield and three League Cup wins over two spells make him the most successful manager in our 110-year history. But both Jose and the board agreed results have not been good enough this season and believe it is in the best interests of both parties to go our separate ways.
"The club wishes to make clear Jose leaves us on good terms and will always remain a much-loved, respected and significant figure at Chelsea. His legacy at Stamford Bridge and in England has long been guaranteed and he will always be warmly welcomed back to Stamford Bridge.
"The club's focus is now on ensuring our talented squad reaches its potential. There will be no further comment until a new appointment is made."
Spanish sports newspaper AS had said earlier on Thursday that the agent of former Sevilla and Tottenham boss Juande Ramos was in London negotiating with Chelsea.
Ramos has been tipped to take charge on an interim basis until the end of the season, though Telegraph journalist Sam Wallace reported Guus Hiddink is set to return.
Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo said the club do not expect to have a new man in place in time for Saturday's game against Sunderland.
"You're not a big club if you don't have contingency plans for situations like this," he said. "We're a big club that has quality coaches embedded within the club, and I think we will be OK for Saturday. We will have competent people come up and help with preparation for the game."
Chelsea have lost 12 of their past 25 games in all competitions, leading Mourinho on Monday to say that he felt "betrayed" by his players.
Chelsea's 2-1 defeat at West Ham United on Oct. 24 had seen the board tentatively discussing the idea of dismissing the Portuguese, according to ESPN FC sources.
But with the club already crashing out of the Capital One Cup to Stoke and being 20 points off the top of the Premier League, owner Roman Abramovich has opted to take a reported £30 million hit on Mourinho, who signed a new four-year contract in the summer.
After Monday's defeat, the former Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss had declared that he wanted to stay in charge at Stamford Bridge but said the decision was ultimately down to Abramovich.
The Portuguese coach then went on to question the attitude and "passion" of a number of his own players, with Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, and Cesc Fabregas bearing the brunt of the criticism in recent weeks.
Mourinho said: "How many millions would love to be football players and they can't be? You shouldn't waste any minutes on the pitch. You should enjoy every minute and give absolutely everything.
"Yes, I feel frustrated with some players, and I feel that some others, they give everything and don't deserve to lose."
After the defeat at Leicester, Mourinho appeared to question Hazard when he said he must have had a "serious injury" after being replaced early on in the defeat at the King Power Stadium, though the Belgian forward's father rejected any suggestion his son feigned the issue.
Mourinho has now left Chelsea twice after departing the club by mutual consent in September 2007.
The coach was appointed by Abramovich in June 2004, having led Porto to league, cup and Champions League success the previous season at Porto, and he won the Premier League title and League Cup in his first year in England.
Another league title came the following season, with the coach then collecting an FA Cup and League Cup double in the 2006-07 campaign.
But tensions with Abramovich saw Mourinho leave West London in 2007, and he took over at Inter for the start of the 2008-09 season.
The Portuguese won the Serie A title in his debut San Siro campaign, and led the Nerazzurri to the second Treble of his career in 2010 before departing for Real Madrid that summer.
Mourinho won the Copa del Rey in his first year in charge at the Bernabeu and then broke Barcelona's La Liga dominance with a title win in 2011-12.
He then left the Spanish capital in 2013 after what he described as the "worst season" of his career -- Real finished second in the league and reached the Copa del Rey final and Champions League semifinal -- and returned to Chelsea, with the Blues finishing third in 2013-14.
The coach won the league title and Capital One Cup last season but was unable to maintain the team's form this campaign.