Source AP ©

Mourinho leaves Chealsea

Chelsea appointed Avram Grant and Steve Clarke to take charge of the Premier League team Thursday after manager Jose Mourinho's sudden departure.

"Chelsea football club can confirm that Avram Grant and Steve Clarke will be in charge of the first team from today (Thursday)," Chelsea said on its Web site.

Chelsea did not say how long the pair would be running the team or exactly what their roles would be. Chelsea's next game is at defending champion Manchester United on Sunday.

"The club is delighted that, in Avram, we have an experienced man who can come in immediately at this difficult time to help deliver our objectives. In Steve, we have a Chelsea man and he will be a crucial part of the management team going forward," Chelsea added.

Clarke was assistant coach under Mourinho, while Grant was hired by billionaire owner Roman Abramovich to work alongside Mourinho this season.

Mourinho, the self-proclaimed "Special One" who led the Blues to its first league title in 50 years, left a day after his team was held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Rosenborg on Tuesday in the Champions League.

Abramovich, the Russian owner who wants to win the European Cup most of all, appointed Mourinho only a few days after the Portuguese coach won the Champions League title with FC Porto in 2004.

Although the colorful, outspoken and talented coach, who reportedly was paid 6.5 million pounds (US$13 million, EUR 9.2 million) per year, won two straight Premier Leagues, the FA Cup and two League Cups, he failed to bring European soccer's biggest title to Chelsea.

The 44-year-old Mourinho has proved popular with the media and Chelsea fans. But he has previously said he would like to return home later in his career, eventually as coach of Portugal's national team, currently coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari.

On Thursday, UEFA handed Scolari a four-match ban and a fine for scuffling with Serbia defender Ivica Dragutinovic during a European Championship qualifying match earlier this month.

Chelsea announced early Thursday morning that Mourinho, who had a contract until 2009, was leaving the team.