Roman Calls The Tune
Taken from us in the dead of night, was Jose. Just like that. The health hadn't been the best of late, but it was still a shock when it came.
Hard to imagine life without him, isn't it? A principal character in the Premier League soap opera has been killed off. I can see the compilation of his best moments now, from the extraordinary cameo appearance in Porto's victory over Manchester United in the 2004 Champions League last 16 to last week's 'egg metaphor' press conference. Maybe soundtracked by I Know Him So Well, Elaine Page and Barbara Dickson's classic 1985 version, of course.
Plenty other central characters could be following Mourinho into the footballing equivalent of Holby City. Mourinho's greatest achievement at Chelsea, aside from the tangibles of two Premiership titles, one FA Cup and a Carling Cup, was the team spirit and loyalty he engendered at Stamford Bridge: he created a heart in a club where such a thing shouldn't have existed.
Aside from John Terry and Frank Lampard - the former recently announced himself, Lampard and Mourinho to be the three-pronged fork of righteous justice that would lead Chelsea to global domination - Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Michael Essien and Claude Makalele are all reportedly not best pleased at the way Mourinho's constructive dismissal was carried out.
It certainly appears to be a watershed for the club. Whether the Wormtongue presence of Avram Grant represents a long-term alternative as manager, the Israeli faces an enormous challenge in marshalling Mourinho's loyal footsoldiers under his command.
The duration of his stewardship, of course, will be precisely as long as Roman Abramovich's patience lasts. The Sacked Managers Union that represent most of the football punditry industry will line up squarely in support of Mourinho at this point. The outrageousness of a chairman and club owner dictating how a manager should do his job will be stated and underlined at length.
But the idea that any sort of normal moral compass applies in the world of Abramovich and Chelsea is utterly redundant. In the world that the Russian oligarch has created around Stamford Bridge, there is no right or wrong way. There is only Roman's way. It is a mini-moral universe in which Abramovich's word is the Truth.
And anyone who enters that world, lives by that word.
So if Abramovich felt that he - the creator and intelligent designer of this world - was unsatisfied that his hundreds of millions had failed to produce what he desired, the elusive winning-with-style conundrum, then Jose's fate was sealed. In short, Roman saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. But not great.
The ultimate irony in Mourinho's departure is that the man who portrayed himself as the quasi-supernatural 'Special One', was undone in a perfect enactment of the Christian theology that even the greatest man is subservient to the superior being.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.