By Martyn Herman
Premier League managers stood up for sacked Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho on Friday and West Bromwich Albion’s Tony Pulis said his departure was a “big loss” for English football.
Mourinho ruffled feathers during his two spells at Stamford Bridge, occasionally getting under the skin of his rivals, but clearly he was a manager they enjoyed locking horns with.
“I was surprised and disappointed in a way,” Pulis told a news conference on Friday.
“The Premier League is a diversity of all different styles and characters and he is and has been one of the top managers in the world. A great character, a great personality, and he is a big loss to the Premier League.”
Mourinho was fired on Thursday following a dreadful run of results in the Premier League.
Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat at leaders Leicester City on Monday was their ninth loss in 16 league games and left the champions one point above the relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s clash with fellow strugglers Sunderland.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, who claimed a shock 1-0 victory over Mourinho’s Chelsea this month to add to the woes of the Portuguese, said Mourinho had succumbed to the present trend of firing managers.
He was the fifth Premier League manager to lose his job this season.
“He won the league last year, so you can’t say that it didn’t work out for him,” Howe said.
“He just went through a disappointing spell of results. In modern day football, it is the hardest time to manage. One result can swing opinions. You have to have a level-headed chairman and support from above.”
West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic, who also got the better of Mourinho this year, said it was a warning to the rest.
“I can only say about Mourinho that I’m definitely surprised,” he said.
“Mourinho going shows nobody is safe. You have to enjoy your job, do your best and work hard for the club you are in.”
“It’s a big loss for the league and the Premier League is going to miss him. I really hope he is not lost because we’ll miss him a lot,” the Croat added.