FOOTBALL | English Premiership giants Manchester United have come to terms with their losses and relieved manager Jose Mourinho with immediate effect.
The club said on its official Twitter account: “Manchester United has announced that Jose Mourinho has left the Club. We would like to thank him for his work during his time at Manchester United and wish him success in the future.”
The departure of Portuguese gaffer, like it has been with each club since leaving FC Porto after taking Europe by storm and winning the Champions League with the unheralded Portuguese side, comes into his third season.
In a nutshell, it means that Mourinho has fallen to the so-called third season syndrome that dogs his illustrious managerial career.
He becomes the second manager to be sacked this season after Southampton Saints saw off Mark Hughes last month.
Mourinho was appointed in the summer of 2016 after literally running a campaign to take over at Carrington from Dutchman Luis van Gaal. He was given a three-year contract with Manchester United, with an option to stay at the club until at least 2020.
He started his season well and won the Carabao (League Cup) against Southampton before beating Ajax to win the Europa League he had previously belittled as substandard trophy. With two major titles in his first season, Mourinho gave the United faithful that Ed Woodward’s decision to look for a quick fix to trophy drought since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson was sorted.
It was widely expected that he would weave his second season magic to win the much craved 21st league title for Manchester United to reassert Manchester United’s powers in the league. However, there was a new Sheriff in town and he was Mour’s worst nightmare — Pep Guardiola.
To make matters worse, Guardiola was at rivals Manchester City. Even more nightmarish was the Guardiola was provided with deep pockets. The second season magic couldn’t happen as Manchester United finished almost 20 points from champions Manchester City.
Although he had qualified for Champions League and given the club hope that they could challenge for the title, his summer spending was largely quiet having already “abused” the major assets of the club in the likes of Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata, while at spending big to acquire Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.
Mourinho has bemoaned the lack of beehive in the transfer market, saying the board was not doing enough to back him. However, officials at Carrington appeared to not share the view given that Manchester United’s net spend has been far much more than Liverpool and Arsenal, for instance.
Mourinho brought in 11 players over the last two-and-a-half seasons at a cost of around £400 million. There was also considerable friction over United’s plans to bring in a director of football or technical director, plans they will continue to push on with.
Mourinho started this season with the expectation that it would be his last at the club having run a broken dressing room in which has time and again openly criticising his players.
His fallout with Pogba, the club’s most expensive signing at $95 million, and other senior players has been much publicised. Although Pogba went on to lead France to World Cup triumph in the summer, Mourinho has continued to overlook the French midfielder, citing his attitude.
On Sunday, Pogba was an unused substitute as Liverpool overran United to leave them 19 points off their biggest rivals and 11 off the fourth placed Chelsea. Manchester United are in sixth position on the log.
The club that had the second best defence last season with only 28 goals conceded have already shipped in 29 this term, with just 17 games played, a run of almost two goals conceded per game.
Only Fulham, Southampton and Cardiff City have chipped in more.
Mourinho, who was pictured arriving at Carrington at 9am, just minutes before being sacked on Tuesday, is set to receive a £22.5m pay-off with the club still in the Champions League.
“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,” the club said in the statement.
France legend and former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is the bookmakers’ favourite and is available after winning three Champions Leagues with Real Madrid.
Mauricio Pochettino ticks all the right boxes but United know it would be very difficult to prise the Argentine away from Tottenham in mid-season.
Mourinho’s clubs since 2002
2008–2010 Inter Milan
2010–2013 Real Madrid
2016–2018 Manchester United