Chelsea sacks manager

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> English Premiership side Chelsea finally parted company with Claudio Ranieri on Monday.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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English Premiership side Chelsea finally parted company with Claudio Ranieri on Monday, after months of speculation about the coaching position at the London club. No replacement was named, but FC Porto manager Jose Mourinho has been linked with the Stamford Bridge job for months. Claudio Ranieri was under contract until 2007 at Chelsea, but had been under pressure from owner Roman Abramovich to deliver trophies. His side couldn't manage that, but did have one of its best season in years, reaching the semi-finals of the European Cup and finishing second in the league behind Arsenal. Ranieri's future had been in doubt since Abramovich bought the club last June and injected 130 million pounds ($237.9 million) worth of new players. England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who was pictured with chief executive Peter Kenyon earlier this year, was a key target for Chelsea until he extended his contract in March. FC Porto manager Jose Mourinho, who won the UEFA Cup last year and the European Cup last week with Porto, then emerged as a successor. Ranieri was appointed by former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates as Gianluca Vialli's successor in September 2000. Under Ranieri, Chelsea finished sixth in 2001, sixth and FA Cup runner up in 2002, fourth in 2003 and second in 2004. One of the highlights this season was beating London rival Arsenal in the Champions League quarterfinals. But in the next round of the Champions League against Monaco, Ranieri came under fierce criticism for his tactics, which saw his side lose 3-1 in the first leg. The second leg finished 2-2, and Chelsea were eliminated. Several Chelsea players, including internationals John Terry and Frank Lampard, whom Ranieri signed three years ago, have backed Ranieri throughout the season and have both credited Ranieri for helping them grow as players. Before Chelsea, Ranieri had an unspectacular career with Roma, Catanzaro and Catania. He took over at Italian club Cagliari in 1988 before joining Napoli three years later. Stints at Fiorentina, Valencia and Atletico Madrid then followed. Ranieri has been linked with Tottenham since the English premiership season ended. (AP)