Newspaper headlines: Mourinho sacking, EU summit, 'burying bad news' and end of UK deep coal mining
Jose Mourinho is on the front pages following his sacking as Chelsea manager, seven months after leading the football club to the Premier League title.
"Merry Christmas, Jose," is the headline in the Times, reporting how in a "spectacular fall from grace", he was sacked shortly after sitting down with his players for a "strained" festive lunch.
The Sun describes Mourinho as a "broken man", saying he did not expect to be out of a job.
Many papers are reporting Chelsea are set to appoint former Dutch national coach Guus Hiddink, who was brought in as the Blues' caretaker manager in 2009, as a temporary replacement.
Chelsea are currently one point above the relegation zone. And the Daily Mail says the 2-1 defeat by Leicester compounded Chelsea's miserable start to the season and left the club with no choice but to dismiss Mourinho, despite the possibility he could be entitled to a contract payout as high as £10m.
Could Mourinho's row in August with the club's first team doctor, Eva Carneiro, which led to her leaving the club, been the spark that led to his downfall? That is the suggestion in both the Daily Mirror and Daily Express.
The Daily Telegraph is among the papers to record the "extraordinary frank interview" Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo gave to the media in which he described the "palpable discord" that had built up between the Mourinho and his players.
A leading article in the Telegraph likens the "fall of Mourinho" to a Shakespearean tragedy.
In the Guardian, Barney Ronay says Mourinho's sacking had become increasingly unavoidable in recent weeks but his was a "suitably operatic extended departure".
"It's been glorious, fun, noisy, toxic and interminable. Not to mention bad-tempered, hair-raising and, in keeping with Mourinho's own status as the first real global celebrity-superstar of his trade, gloriously overblown to the last," he writes.
Simon Kuper in the Financial Times says Mourinho was the ultimate winner with a match for match record almost unrivalled in football history. "This season, he suddenly stopped delivering. If your only selling pitch to the world is that you are a winner, there is nothing left when you become a loser."
- RAF's £375,000 bill for damage by its aircraft - The Daily Mail runs down the list of compensation paid out by the Ministry of Defence in the UK for destruction to property or animals scared to death.
- Don't come bake - The Sun claims Great British Bake Off star Mary Berry is facing the chop in the US as audiences for her show on the ABC network fall flat.
- How our long-lost 'virtual ancestor' looked like before evolutionary split - The Independent reports computer modelling by scientists at Cambridge University has cracked a 700,000-year-old prehistoric mystery with a new "photofit"
The European Union summit in Brussels come under the spotlight as David Cameron maintains that "progress" has been made in his efforts to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the 28 member bloc.
The Daily Express says Mr Cameron made a "passionate plea" during dinner with other leaders but there was little sign of a deal over his demand to stop EU migrants receiving in-work benefits for four years.
The Daily Mirror says his pleas ran into a brick wall. Elsewhere, the Daily Mail says Mr Cameron was forced to "retreat" after facing hostility even before he started and was now willing to consider alternative proposals to help curb migration.
Germany's Angela Merkel threw David Cameron a lifeline and "came to the prime minister's rescue" by insisting that laws could be changed to satisfy Britain's desire for reforms, the Times reports.
The Independent's Oliver Wright says Mr Cameron made a lengthy, highly political address to his European counterparts but became "increasingly isolated".
The cartoonists too offer their interpretations of the events.
Adams in the Daily Telegraph pictures the prime minister as hapless robot C-3PO from Star Wars saying "Oh My" as the Euro wars "never-ending saga continues". Steve Bell in the Guardian puts a naked Mr Cameron on a plate on a dinner table surrounded by seemingly unconvinced European leaders.
A flurry of government announcements on Thursday is being seen by some papers as an "attempt to bury bad news".
The Daily Mail says the blizzard of "embarrassing" releases in a single day saw ministers try to hide U-turns and awkward reports. It says they included announcements on homeless children, "quangocrats" earning more than the prime minister, and a "growing army of special advisors".
But an announcement that 10,000 asylum seekers have gone missing did not escape the notice of the Daily Express, which splashes with the figures.
Meanwhile, the Sun accuses ministers of acting "sneakily" as they head off on their Christmas break. It highlights "36 statements rushed out", including the scrapping of a funding scheme which is expected to push up council tax bills.
The Daily Mirror says the "avalanche" of releases exposed as a "mockery" the prime minister's claims to be transparent.
There is reflection as Kellingley colliery in North Yorkshire closes, bringing an end to centuries of deep coal mining in Britain.
The Guardian sees it as the final act in a long drama "in which miners played a leading role - shaping how the country thought about workers, employers, and the relationships between industry and the state, the trade unions and the Labour party".
Lucy Thornton in the Daily Mirror visits Kellingley and reports on the "heartbreak".
"Most miners are hurt and frustrated because Kellingley is one of Europe's most productive pits," she writes. "But British pits just cannot compete with cheaper imports from Russia and Colombia and have been relentlessly killed off."
The Daily Telegraph says the closure is a "poignant moment", even if a "mythology" developed around miners and their communities that belied the dangers and wretched nature of the jobs. And it worries the government does not have a coherent energy strategy and will still need to import coal for the next decade.
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