04/03/2012 10:31 GMT | Updated 04/03/2012 10:43 GMT

AVB Sacked: Rafa Benitez Favourite To Take Over At Chelsea

News that Andre Villas-Boas has 'parted company' with Chelsea Football Club was announced this afternoon, leading to reaction across Twitter as fans and footballers speculated over the sacked manager's replacement.

Although former midfielder Roberto Di Matteo has been promoted to the role of interim coach, William Hill installed former Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez as favourite to replace AVB at 5/4.

Others in the running include a return for Jose Mourinho (3/1), Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola (8/1) and Gus Poyet, currently manager of Brighton (16/1).

Pressure has been building on AVB in recent months, with a poor run of firm and rumours of unrest within the changing room, particularly by senior players. Questions were also raised concerning the 34-year-old's lack of experience, especially in such a high-profile job.

Yesterday's defeat to West Bromwich Albion proved too much for Roman Abramovich, who stands to make a substantial loss on AVB, having paid around £14m to recruit him, on top of the £10 outlay on firing his predecessor in the Chelsea hot seat, Carlo Ancelotti.

The Chelsea statement read:

"Andre Villas-Boas has parted company with Chelsea Football Club today.

The board would like to record our gratitude for his work and express our disappointment that the relationship has ended so early.

Unfortunately the results and performances of the team have not been good enough and were showing no signs of improving at a key time in the season.

The club is still competing in the latter stages of the Uefa Champions League and the FA Cup, as well as challenging for a top-four spot in the Premier League, and we aim to remain as competitive as possible on all fronts.

With that in mind we felt our only option was to make a change at this time.

With immediate effect Roberto Di Matteo has been appointed first team coach on an interim basis until the end of the season."

The Blues are due to play Birmingham on Tuesday in the FA Cup, before hosting Napoli in the Champions League, where Di Matteo will need to overturn a 3-1 deficit to progress.

Watch AVB's last press conference as Chelsea Manager.