Jose Mourinho’s tumultuous Manchester United tenure came to an end on Tuesday as he finally paid the price for their flagging fortunes.
Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool proved to be the final straw for the Old Trafford hierarchy, with the club sitting 11 points adrift of the top four.
So, after two and half years in the job, where exactly did it all go wrong for the Portuguese?
Here, Omnisport takes a look at some of the key areas where the Special One lost his grip on power.
United’s indifferent form was not the only cause of unrest among the fans. Mourinho’s preferred style of play also irked many, with United’s performances characterised by a lack of intensity and creative flair.
For a fan base still clinging on to memories of the glory days under Alex Ferguson, the regular dose of negative, defensive tactics was hard to stomach.
The weekend defeat at Anfield was a case in point – United had only six shots, two of which were on target, while Liverpool fired off 36 efforts.
1.62 – Manchester United averaged 1.62 goals per game in the Premier League under Jose Mourinho, less than they did under David Moyes (1.65). Chosen.
SIGNINGS FAILING TO FIRE
Mourinho was not exactly starved of financial backing but his signings generally failed to deliver.
The most high-profile recruit was Paul Pogba, a club-record signing from Juventus. Though evidently not short on quality, Pogba’s lack of consistency was infuriating to many and he endured a turbulent relationship with Mourinho.
The Portuguese’s first acquisition, Eric Bailly, encapsulates much about Mourinho’s tenure – patches of promise, spells of underwhelming form, and ultimately a sense of coming up short.
A similar story has played out with forwards Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan failed to last the entirety of Mourinho’s tenure having only arrived at the club in July 2016.
TURNING ON HIS OWN PLAYERS
One thing that is likely to have put a strain on Mourinho’s relationship with the squad was his propensity to criticise them in public.
Mourinho rarely shouldered the blame for anything and frequently spoke in unflattering terms about certain players, with Luke Shaw and Pogba among his targets.
After a 1-1 draw with Everton last year, Mourinho claimed that he “made every decision” for full-back Shaw, while in September he clashed with midfielder Pogba in a training-ground incident that was caught on camera
Luke Shaw’s relationship with Jose Mourinho has often been scrutinised…
And the England defender admits you have to have “thick skin” to play under the Manchester United boss.
Amid United’s struggles, Mourinho was always going to have to field some tough questions and he adopted a combative approach with the media.
Never was this more apparent than after the 3-0 home loss to Tottenham in August, when an evidently tetchy Mourinho’s simmering anger finally boiled over.
In a now infamous rant, Mourinho reminded the world of his three Premier League title wins – more at the time than the other 19 top-flight managers combined – and repeatedly demanded “respect” as he stormed out.
“I won more premierships alone than the other 19 managers together.”
RIVALS RACING AHEAD
The Red Devils’ toils have been made to look all the worse when contrasted with their two biggest rivals, Manchester City and Liverpool.
While Pep Guardiola has expedited City’s transformation into perennial Premier League title contenders, Jurgen Klopp has also been working his magic at Anfield.
It is bad enough for United fans to contemplate finishing outside the top four, but to be so far behind those two clubs makes it harder still to cope with.
176 – Manchester United won 176 Premier League points since the appointment of Jose Mourinho as manager; fewer than Manchester City (222), Tottenham Hotspur (202), Chelsea (200) and Liverpool (196). Departure.