Chelsea have sacked manager Carlo Ancelotti after he ended his second season at the club without a trophy.
He was dismissed following the 1-0 loss to Everton, as the west Londoners finished second in the Premier League.
The 51-year-old had one more year left on his contract at Stamford Bridge.
A club statement read: "This season's performances have fallen short of expectations and the club feels the time is right to make this change ahead of next season's preparations."
Speculation had been mounting that Ancelotti would be sacked following Chelsea's first season without a trophy in three years.
They missed out in the Premier League as Manchester United clinched their 19th top-flight title last week, further compounded by exits in the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup during the season.
The Blues, who were Premier League and FA Cup holders at the start of the campaign, finished nine points behind United and only ahead of third-placed Manchester City on goal difference.
Former manager Avram Grant suffered similar treatment when Chelsea finished second in the domestic table and lost the Champions League final in 2008 on penalties.
And ambitious owner Roman Abramovich, who bankrolled an audacious £50m move for striker Fernando Torres during the January transfer window, will now start the search for a successor capable of recapturing the Premier League from Manchester United, while also guiding the club to the much-coveted Champions League trophy.
"Chelsea's long-term football objectives and ambitions remain unchanged and we will now be concentrating all our efforts on identifying a new manager," read the club statement.
Ancelotti had reiterated his ambition to remain at Chelsea, but insisted the decision was entirely down to the club's demanding hierarchy.
"I am now on holiday - but I am not sure how long my holiday will be," he said in his post-match media conference shortly before he was sacked.
"We haven't arranged any meeting but I think in the next week, now the season is finished, the club can address my job and they will take a decision.
"I have to wait and see what happens. I don't have to say anything to the club - they can judge me on my job for two years."
Ancelotti had been coveted by Abramovich after spending eight years in charge at AC Milan, guiding the Italian giants to two Champions League titles in 2003 and 2007.
He signed a three-year contract in June 2009, taking over from interim boss Guus Hiddink, who had guided Chelsea to the FA Cup before returning to take charge of the Russia national team.
Ancelotti's first season in English football began in spectacular fashion, winning the Premier League and FA Cup - sealing the former with a thumping 8-0 victory against Wigan on the final day of the 2010 calendar.
But his second year in west London proved significantly more challenging as he was twice thwarted by Manchester United domestically and in the Champions League, where Chelsea suffered a quarter-final exit to Sir Alex Ferguson's team.
Ancelotti's progress was hindered when assistant manager Ray Wilkins left the club in November after they decided not to renew his contract.
The Blues had been top of the table but the former England midfielder's departure coincided with a poor run of form, losing 3-0 to Sunderland before a 1-0 reverse against Birmingham during a six-match winless league run.
Defeats by Wolves and Liverpool followed at the start of the year before a late-season renaissance revived their title hopes.
However, a 2-1 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford on 8 May effectively sealed Sir Alex Ferguson's 12th Premier League title.
"Last year was really good, this year was not so good," added Ancelotti.
Chelsea's attentions will now turn to finding Ancelotti's successor, their seventh manager in the eight years since Abramovich took control of the club in 2003.
Porto's highly rated Andre Villas-Boas, Hiddink and former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard are all in the frame.
Dutchman Hiddink, who has a close relationship with Abramovich, revealed he still has an advisory role at Stamford Bridge.
"Since I left two years ago I've been advising the club on things concerning the squad," he wrote in De Telegraaf on Saturday.
"Sometimes I become a sounding board. It costs me very little time and I can combine it well with my position with Turkey. There is no conflict at all."