The Jose Mourinho era at Manchester United came to an abrupt end on Tuesday with the club off to its worst start to a season in 28 years
United said in a short statement that Mourinho had left the club with “immediate effect,” ending a two-and-a-half year tenure that began with promise and ended with plenty of acrimony.
United are sixth in the Premier League on 27 points from 17 games, their lowest total for a top-flight season at this stage since 1990/91.
They are 11 points outside the Champions League qualifying spots and 19 points behind leaders Liverpool, who beat them 3-1 at the weekend.
The 55-year-old Portuguese joined United in 2016 but failed to turn them into title contenders despite lifting the Europa League and League Cup in his first season.
United said a caretaker will be appointed until the end of the season while the club “conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager.”
Sky Sports reported assistant Michael Carrick will fill the caretaker role until a new temporary boss is appointed within the next 48 hours.
Mourinho’s sacking comes amid a public spat with club record signing Paul Pogba, who didn’t leave the substitutes bench against Liverpool.
It also continues his trend of never having completed four seasons at any club, but does mark the first time he exits without having won the league title.
Mourinho’s hiring was hailed after the failures of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal in replacing the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson.
And it looked to be a good move after he debuted with the League Cup and Europa League victories.
And though United went trophy-less last season, Mourinho guided them to runners-up behind runaway champions Manchester City after signing a new two-year contract in January.
That led to great promise for this campaign.
But it quickly disappeared as a prickly Mourinho spent most of the summer complaining about a lack of signings, amid reports of a rift with chief executive Ed Woodward, while also criticizing players such as Pogba and Anthony Martial.
A poor start in which United’s style of play was labelled by boring by fans, media and even former players such as Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand, quickly put the manager under pressure.
Media reports ahead of a game against Newcastle in October said he faced the sack regardless of the result, though he seemed to earn a brief reprieve after United came from two goals down to win 3-2.
But despite qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages, where they will pace French champions Paris Saint-Germain in February and March, the league form didn’t improve even as Mourinho remained defiant United could still finish in the top four.
But they were miles from that level at Liverpool on Sunday and another lacklustre outing, in which Pogba never got off the substitutes’ bench, proved to be the straw that broke the manager’s back.
“They [Liverpool] are fast, they are intense, they are aggressive, they are physical, they are objective,” Mourinho admitted in what turned out to be his final post-match interview.
“I have lot of good players technically but we don’t have lots of players with that intensity, that physicality, so when the game has high levels of intensity it is difficult for us.”