Paul Merson has spoken out in support of Jose Mourinho, claiming that the Chelsea players were ultimately responsible for his sacking.
Owner Roman Abramovich brought an end to the Portuguese manager's second stint in charge at Stamford Bridge on Thursday after the Blues made the worst start to a title defence in Premier League history.
"In the end, Jose Mourinho has been betrayed by his players," Merson wrote in his column for the Daily Star. "He said as much after the defeat at Leicester – and he was right. They've downed tools on him and got him the sack. It's their fault he's gone.
"I understand totally why he said what he did and he was right to say it. They let him down, and they've been letting him down for weeks.
"Even I know that Riyad Mahrez likes to cut inside and shoot with his left foot. What happened? Chelsea let him cut inside and score with his left foot."
The pundit went on to criticise Mourinho's behaviour, however, saying that his admission that the top four was out of reach would have demotivated his players.
"To come out and say they can't make the top four is not going to motivate your players or get the fans flocking to Stamford Bridge is it?" Merson wrote.
"If you're a fan, what's the point in going? You're hoping they turn it around but he's said, 'No chance'. I don't think Abramovich will have enjoyed hearing that.
"He's spent a fortune putting that team together and he doesn't want to hear they're not good enough to finish in the top four."
Guus Hiddink will watch from the stands at Stamford Bridge today as Chelsea welcome fellow strugglers Sunderland ahead of his expected appointment as interim manager in the coming days.