Following their loss to Liverpool at the weekend, their fifth in the league this season, Manchester United have sacked manager Jose Mourinho after just over two-and-a-half years in the job.
United’s poor start to the season has seen them fall 19 points behind leaders Liverpool and 11 points behind Chelsea, the team that currently occupy the final Champions League qualification place – and all before the halfway point of the season.
The club’s statement on Mourinho’s departure reads as follows: “Manchester United announces that manager Jose Mourinho has left the club with immediate effect. The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future. A new caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the current season, while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager. “
It has been a tumultuous season for Mourinho, one that has seen his relationship with executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, deteriorate further after a relatively underwhelming summer transfer window. Further fissures in the squad were outlined when Mourinho stripped Paul Pogba of his vice-captaincy before the shock Carabao Cup defeat against Derby. A video of Mourinho confronting Pogba at training the following morning went viral.
Mourinho himself has seemed less assured even in the face of this latest adversity. Mourinho was already bemoaning the disrupted pre-season preparation, a knock-on effect of the World Cup. His now infamous ‘respect, respect, respect’ tirade following the club’s 3-0 home defeat against Tottenham revealed the personal cracks as did a number of allegations of misconduct from the FA, most notably a tunnel incident at former club Chelsea.
But that isn’t to say that Mourinho’s tenure hasn’t had its successes. He led United to Europa League and League Cup glory during the 2016/17 season before finishing second in the league last season alongside an FA Cup final appearance. But the transfer bill of Mourinho’s reign, which exceeds £350m, will have many questioning why these few successes haven’t been sustained.
Replacing Mourinho as interim coach is Michael Carrick, although initial reports suggest that an exterior candidate will take charge in the coming weeks until the end of the season. Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane and current Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino are the current favourites to succeed Mourinho in the summer.