English Premier League

Jose Mourinho sacked by Manchester United: Portuguese leaves after two and a half years in charge; reaction – ‘no surprise’

  • Manchester United were well beaten by Liverpool in his final game as manager of the club
  • Red Devils sit sixth in the Premier League table, 19 points behind the Jurgen Klopp’s men
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 5:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2018, 8:27pm

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho was sacked from his role as manager at Old Trafford on Tuesday morning.

The former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan manager left the club after two and a half years in charge of the Red Devils.

“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.”

Rumours had circulated recently that the 55-year-old had lost the support of his dressing room at Old Trafford, though the timing of the dismissal comes as a surprise.

However, the club are marooned in sixth place in the Premier League table, 19 points behind pace-setters Liverpool after just 17 games, and their total haul of 26 is their lowest tally at this point of a campaign since the 1990-91 season.

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After taking over from Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2016, the Portuguese led United to League Cup and Europa League titles during his time with the club.

The 20-time English champions finished second in the table behind neighbours Manchester City last season, but were a distant 19 points adrift of Pep Guardiola’s side.

It’s been reported that former United midfielder Michael Carrick will take temporary charge of training for the remainder of this week before a caretaker boss is appointed.

Three-time European Cup-winning manager Zinedine Zidane and former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte have been installed as the early favourites to succeed Mourinho.

Mourinho’s run of never completing a four-season spell in charge of any club goes on.

His relationship with Paul Pogba, the club’s record signing, appeared broken after leaving the France midfielder out of the team for their past three league games.

Mourinho had also been unhappy that United’s board failed to back his wish to sign a central defender in the offseason. United have already conceded more goals in the league than it did in all of last season.

Mourinho’s final match in charge was the 3-1 loss at Anfield, after which he said his players were brittle and couldn’t cope with the intensity and physicality of Liverpool – historically United’s biggest rival.

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Mourinho lasted the same length of time at United as he did in his previous job at Chelsea, when he was also fired just before Christmas in his third season. He signed a new contract in January until June 2020 and will reportedly receive compensation of £24 million (HK$236 million).

In his six major coaching stints – at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea again and United – Mourinho has only lasted more than three years once. That was in his first spell at Chelsea.

United reached the last 16 in the Champions League, where they will play Paris Saint-Germain over two legs in February and March.

For many pundits, Mourinho’s sacking was expected.

Former United captain Gary Neville said: “I’ve been fortunate to spend time at Tottenham’s training ground, and for me he [Mauricio Pochettino] feels like the ideal candidate. United have tried managers who have won European cups, they’ve tried managers who have won multiple leagues.

“My view is they need someone who meets the three key principles of the football club, and that is promotion of youth, entertaining football, and to win football matches.”

Television host and former England star Gary Lineker said: “With United 19 points behind Liverpool after 17 games, with the vast majority of players playing way below their best... and dour football to boot.

“Given Mourinho was allowed to spend hundreds of millions on those players, the split seemed inevitable.”

Graeme Souness, the former Liverpool manager, said he thought Mourinho had lost interest in the job.

“I think he [Mourinho] would have known this was coming,” said Souness. “I’m not surprised with the money he has spent and how the players are playing at this present moment in time. I said on Sunday, I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel for them.

“I was at Bournemouth two weeks ago. I’m a season ticket holder there. My season ticket is 10 rows behind the dugout and I saw a man who didn’t want to be there.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press and Reuters