Jose Mourinho
Mourinho sacked with Chelsea a point above the relegation zone. Getty

For so long, the only people safe from Jose Mourinho's sharp tongue were his Chelsea players. A grizzled veteran in the art of creating the 'us against them' mentality, his penchant for deflecting blame directed at his charges onto himself, referees or anyone else was a devastatingly effective component to his managerial repertoire. It was never the fault of his players.

For that mantra to undergo such a transition is staggering. The Mourinho of last season would sooner risk the ire of the FA than throw one of his players under the bus. When his team performed badly, it was the other team parking the bus that was the problem. Not the players.

That transition was complete on Monday when Mourinho gave his most damming verdict of his players yet. The Portuguese coach used the word betrayal three times in his post-match press conference following the 2-1 defeat to Leicester City – the ninth the club have suffered in their opening 16 games of the season.

"One of my best qualities is that I can read the game and identify the strengths of the opponent and tell my players what they are," he opined. "So it is a big frustration to accept the goals [Leicester scored] because my work was betrayed – if that is the right word."

For Mourinho to extol his own virtues at the expense of those his players was extraordinary, even by the capricious standard set by this Premier League season.

He continued: "One possibility is that I did an amazing job last season and brought the players to a level that is not their level and now they can't maintain it."

It was a profound example of a manager, rightly or wrongly, hanging his team out to dry. No one has been safe from him this season, least of all the key figures who inspired the team to that Premier League success last season.

Eden Hazard, the PFA Player of the Year just eight months ago, has been singled out on more than one occasion. The winger was dropped in October against Aston Villa with Mourinho explaining that he was not working hard enough to justify a first-team role and their relationship has remained fractured ever since.

The Belgium international hasn't been alone, even when Mourinho opted against naming names. When Mourinho referred to the "world champion" within his ranks in his critique of the performance against Leicester, there is little doubt he was referring to 2010 World Cup winner Cesc Fabregas and possibly his compatriot Pedro.

He hasn't stopped short of naming players outright. At the beginning of the season, when what we now know was the start of a full-blown crisis was merely an early blip, he named Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta and Nemanja Matic as the players he was not happy with.

Diego Costa missed that round of criticism but the increasingly toxic relationship with the manager has no doubt impacted upon the foul atmosphere around the club.

The siege mentality that Mourinho so relentlessly instilled in his players was dismantled by the man himself. It left his relationship with the players who were prepared to run though brick walls from him last season and in tatters and left Thursday's announcement inevitable.