Manchester United sack Jose Mourinho after rollercoaster two-and-a-half years in charge

Jose Mourinho’s time at Manchester United has finally come to an end
Jose Mourinho’s time at Manchester United has finally come to an end

Jose Mourinho’s spell at Manchester United has come to an end after a tumultuous two-and-a-half years at the club.

After signing Paul Pogba for a then-world record £89million as his star man, the France World Cup winner rapidly became his biggest problem at Old Trafford.

Pogba’s inconsistent form blended with a tendency to commit match-costing errors infuriated the fans, hierarchy and manager at the club.

That, alongside Mourinho’s bitter battles with then-fellow Premier League managers Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte, ensured an almost constant toxic atmosphere surrounded the club.

And Mourinho, now 55, has subsequently paid the price for his under-performing charges.

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A brief United statement read: “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.”

Speculation has suggested former United player – and backroom staff member – Michael Carrick could act as caretaker manager until the end of the season.

Jose Mourinho’s career in club management
Jose Mourinho’s career in club management

The news comes two days after United’s 3-1 Premier League defeat at Liverpool, which left them 19 points behind the table-topping Reds in sixth place, and 11 points off the top four.

Mourinho was originally drafted in as the new Red Devils boss to succeed where David Moyes and Louis van Gaal had both failed in replacing the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, winning the Europa League and League Cup in his first season at the helm.

The Red Devils made a number of expensive signings under former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager, including Pogba.

Former academy product Pogba, 25, returned to the club as the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku made the move to Manchester.

But for all the high-profile signings, including Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Mourinho could not get United back to winning ways, or at least playing an enticing brand of football.

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‘United can remove the shackles of his chaotic control’

Reaction to the news on social media was fairly unanimous as the divisive manager’s sacking brought about a raft of humour.

Commentator Jim Beglin wrote: ‘Slagging your players off in public makes no managerial sense. A recipe for the growth of contempt.

‘Mourinho continued to deflect blame rather than accept some of the responsibility.

‘United can remove the shackles of his chaotic control.’

Former Old Trafford favourite and current Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville told the broadcaster Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino should be Mourinho’s replacement.

“For me the next manager of Man United should be Mauricio Pochettino,” he said. “When I look at values at Man United, I look at his belief in young players.

“His performance levels, style of play, the way he’s carried himself. I was fortunate enough to spend two or three days at Tottenham’s training ground.

“My view is he is somebody who brings the three key principals of the club: style of play, promotion of youth and winning football matches. He is the person who is the outstanding candidate.”

Zidane the favourite for Manchester United?

Former France and Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane has been touted as the 10/11 favourite to take the permanent role by Betfair.

Antonio Conte (4/1), Mauricio Pochettino and Laurent Blanc (both 5/1) are also in the running according to the bookies.

Betfair Spokesperson Katie Baylis said: “The writing has been on the wall for Mourinho for months and now he’s finally been sacked, attention has immediately turned to who will take over.

“With Michael Carrick set to look after the team for the next few days at least, it’s all about who will be given the job permanently.”

The key dates

May 27, 2016 – Appointed as Manchester United manager, replacing Louis van Gaal.

October 23, 2016 – A 4-0 thrashing at the hands of former club Chelsea on his return to Stamford Bridge.

October 29, 2016 – Sent to the stands at half-time for protesting a decision against his side in a 0-0 home draw against Burnley.

May 24, 2017 – Guides United to the Europa League with a 2-0 victory over Ajax in Stockholm.

October 21, 2017 – A 13-match unbeaten run across all competitions to start the season ends with a 2-1 loss at newly-promoted Huddersfield.

December 20, 2017 – A 2-1 quarter-final defeat at Sky Bet Championship side Bristol City ends United’s hopes of retaining the Carabao Cup.

January 26, 2018 – Signs a new contract to remain as United boss until 2020, with the option of a further year.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Europa League Final between Ajax and Manchester United.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Europa League Final between Ajax and Manchester United.
Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho (L) shouts instructions at Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)
Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho (L) shouts instructions at Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

March 13, 2018 – Sevilla knock United out of the Champions League at the round of 16 stage, winning 2-1 at Old Trafford after a goalless first leg in Spain.

April 7, 2018 – Paul Pogba scores twice and Chris Smalling gets the winner as United come from two goals behind to win 3-2 at Manchester City and prevent Guardiola’s side securing the Premier League title in the derby.

May 19, 2018 – FA Cup final defeat against Chelsea as Eden Hazard’s penalty secures a 1-0 win for the Blues.

November 11, 2018 – Three straight wins, including an incredible 2-1 comeback victory at Juventus, looked to put Mourinho’s side back in form but they fell to a 3-1 derby defeat at Manchester City to pile the pressure back on the Portugese manager.

December 16, 2018 – A last-gasp 1-0 win at home to Young Boys saw United qualify for the Champions League knockout stages gave Mourinho a stay of execution, but a final matchday loss at Valencia was followed by a heavy 3-1 reverse to Liverpool at Anfield cranked up the pressure.

December 18, 2018 – Just two days after their first defeat in nine league matches against their north-west rivals, Manchester United announced the Portuguese was sacked by the club on Tuesday morning.

The key quotes

“Yes, I think (we can). What gives me that belief? It gives me the belief that we are going to make much more points in the second part of the season than we did in the first part. I know we lost some other matches but we played away at Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City – probably the three best teams apart from Tottenham.” – Mourinho insists United can finish the season in the top four, despite a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool which left them in sixth place and 11 points off fourth-placed Chelsea on December 16, 2018.

“Let me send a message to my lovers and say that I played Champions League for 14 years and I qualified 14 times. And the two years where I didn’t play Champions League, I won the Europa League twice, so in 16 years, 14 times I qualify and twice I play Europa League and I won. Just a little curiosity for my lovers and the lovers of the stats.” – November 27, 2018, after qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages following Marouane Fellani’s last-gasp winner at home to Young Boys.

“Do you know what was the result? Three-nil. Do you know what this means (holding up three fingers)? Three-nil but it also means three Premier Leagues and I won more alone than the other 19 managers together. Three for me and two for them. Respect, respect, respect,” – leaving the post-match media conference angry at a perceived lack of respect following the August 27, 2018, 3-0 Premier League loss to Tottenham at Old Trafford.

Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho holds up three fingers, indicating the three titles he won (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP
Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho holds up three fingers, indicating the three titles he won (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP

“You can be a rich club and buy all the best players in the world but you cannot buy class…because I am in the movie I could ask for some royalties,” – criticising neighbours Manchester City for their Amazon Prime documentary on August 18, 2018.

“I wouldn’t spend my money to see these teams,” – after a weakened United lost 4-1 to a Liverpool side without their leading players in Michigan in the International Champions Cup on July 28, 2018.

“What never happened to me and will never happen to me is to be suspended for match-fixing,” – a war of words with Antonio Conte escalated in January 2018 when the Portuguese made reference to the Italian’s four-month ban for failing to report attempted match fixing, which was later overturned and saw Conte acquitted.

“The only thing I can say is that I’m still a coach with worries, with ambitions, and with the desire to do new things. And I don’t believe… no, I’m sure that I won’t end my career here,” – says United will not be his final job in an October 15, 2017, interview with a French broadcaster, in comments interpreted as a flirtation with Paris St Germain.

“If we could, we would change obviously the people’s lives for this cup – immediately, we wouldn’t think twice. Does this cup make the city of Manchester a bit happier? Maybe,” – after the Europa League final defeat of Ajax on May 24, 2017, which came fewer than 48 hours after 22 people were killed and many more injured in the Manchester Arena bombing.

Not so special: Manchester United have sacked manager Jose Mourinho (AFP Photo/Lindsey PARNABY)
Not so special: Manchester United have sacked manager Jose Mourinho (AFP Photo/Lindsey PARNABY)

“Manchester United sold players that I would never sell and bought players that I would never buy. I would never have sold Di Maria, Chicharito, Danny Welbeck – never, no chance,” – questions United’s transfer policy on March 16, 2017.

“They can call me what they want. Until the moment they have a manager that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I’m the number one. When they have somebody that wins four Premier Leagues for them, I become number two. Until this moment Judas is number one,” – Mourinho responds to Chelsea supporters labelling him ‘Judas’ during United’s 1-0 FA Cup quarter-final loss at Stamford Bridge on March 13, 2017.

“It is my little homage to somebody that wrote the most beautiful history of the Premier League. Somebody that probably would deserve the Leicester stadium to be named ‘Claudio Ranieri’ – and he is sacked,” – after attending his weekly media conference in a shirt emblazoned with the initials ‘CR’ to show solidarity with Claudio Ranieri, the title-winning boss sacked by Leicester, in February 2017.

“There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference,” – appears on November 7, 2016, to cast doubt on Chris Smalling and Shaw’s claims they are injured after the defensive pair missed a win at Swansea.

“If, at the end of the three years, I don’t win a single piece of silverware for them, they will say ‘great guy, good coach, we like him, but we feel nothing special about him’,” – acknowledging on October 22, 2016, he must win to be ‘special’ to United fans.

“It is a job every one wants and not many have a chance to have and I have it,” – at his unveiling on July 5, 2016.