Rafa Benitez has been appointed as the new manager of Chelsea until the end of the season, replacing Roberto Di Matteo who was ruthlessly sacked earlier in the day.
The decision – unpopular among many Chelsea diehards – means Roman Abramovich has his ninth manager in nine years as owner.
A statement on the club website said: 'Chelsea Football Club can confirm Rafael Benitez has been appointed interim first-team manager until the end of the season.
'The owner and the Board believe that in Benitez we have a manager with significant experience at the highest level of football, who can come in and immediately help deliver our objectives.
'The 52-year-old Spaniard is due to meet the players at the training ground in Cobham tomorrow.'
It is believed the former Liverpool manager has taken the job until the end of the season, when he will be replaced by Pep Guardiola. He flew in from Doha this afternoon for talks.
The board held an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon to decide to offer the post to Benitez, ahead of Avram Grant.
Di Matteo was sacked, despite winning the European Cup and the FA Cup last season. His dismissal came at 4am on Wednesday, following a 3-0 defeat at Juventus in the Champions League that left Chelsea on the brink of going out.
Abramovich is desperate to land Guardiola as the man to take over long-term. The former Barcelona boss is currently on a year's sabbatical in New York.
Benitez told Sport360°: 'I have just found out [about Di Matteo]. Obviously Chelsea is a top side and they can compete for trophies so it goes in this category.'
Asked if Chelsea had already made an approach, he replied: 'You ask directly, I cannot answer directly. In football a lot of people are talking so we will see what happens in the next few days.
Abramovich fired Di Matteo after an 'unacceptable' run of results.
A Chelsea statement read: ‘Chelsea Football Club has parted company this morning with manager Roberto Di Matteo.
‘The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season.
'The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions.
'Our aim is to remain as competitive as possible and challenge strongly on all fronts.
'The owner and the Board would like to thank Roberto for all he has done for the club since taking over in March. Roberto helped guide us to an historic Champions League victory and a seventh FA Cup.
'We will never forget the huge contribution he has made to this club's history and he will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge.
'The club will be making an announcement shortly regarding a new first team manager.'
Chelsea owner Abramovich, furious with the club's disastrous Champions League campaign, sacked him just hours after their 3-0 defeat at Juventus and training was cancelled for the day.
Di Matteo was informed of the decision during an emergency 4am meeting at the club's Cobham training base, just after the club had touched down back in England after the hour-and-a-half flight from Italy.
Chelsea executives met at Stamford Bridge at 9am after telling Di Matteo that his reign was over just six months after he led them to glory in the European Cup.
Guardiola is spending time in Manhattan with his family after four years in charge at the Nou Camp.
Discreet enquires from Chelsea, Manchester City and AC Milan have already taken place, with all three clubs keen to steal a march on their rivals in the race to land the talented manager.
Abramovich was furious that the team, who started the season with the chance to win seven trophies, are already in freefall.
Although he was prepared to overlook the Community Shield defeat against Manchester City, he was furious with the 4-1 defeat against Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup.
Abramovich’s circle made it clear that they had to play seven games to 'qualify' for the Community shield and that it should be treated seriously.
Likewise the 4-1 defeat against Atletico in Monaco came after they won the Champions League final against Bayern Munich and they wanted to win it.
Chelsea need a miracle to qualify from Group E of the Champions League and are in danger of becoming the first holders in the history of the competition to go out in the group phase.
They are four points behind this weekend’s opponents Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League and cannot afford another defeat after last week’s 2-1 loss at West Bromwich.