ManU sacked José Mourinho on Tuesday after the Premier League club's worst start to a season for 28 years, according to Hodgson & Bounds of the FINANCIAL TIMES. ManU said that the Portuguese manager would leave "with immediate effect" and that a temporary "caretaker" replacement would take charge until the end of the season in May. The board "finally lost patience" after a 3-1 defeat against rival Liverpool on Sunday. The club's shares, which are traded in N.Y., have fallen by a third since the end of August, in a sign that "poor performances were affecting its commercial value." Mourinho faced "fierce criticism" over recent results as well as the style in which ManU plays. The team is sixth in the Premier League, 19 points behind leader Liverpool (FT, 12/18). In London, Jamie Jackson reported the club took into account Mourinho’s transfer spend of around £400M on 11 players who, it is understood, the club insists "were all the Portuguese’s choice." In addition to the "disquiet regarding the side’s stultifying style," there was "further disappointment" at Mourinho’s development and improvement of ManU’s younger players. The club also "considered the growing unhappiness from fans at the direction of the club under him." It is understood the compensation due to Mourinho will be no more than £15M ($19M). Mourinho is said to have been "taken by surprise at the dismissal," having "fully expected to continue for the game at Cardiff on Saturday." An indication of his mood was given when his confidant Eládio Paramés tweeted in Portuguese, "Moyes did not fit, Van Gaal did not fit, Mourinho did not fit. The only one that fits is Ed Woodward. Do you understand?" (GUARDIAN, 12/18). REUTERS' Mitch Phillips reported Mourinho's 58.33% win record is "considerably better" than that of David Moyes (52.94%) and Van Gaal (52.43%) and only "marginally behind" Alex Ferguson's 59.67%. But those figures "mask the fact that he has been poor" against the other top-six teams, while his tactical approach has "alienated just about everyone at the club." With every passing defeat, he "found new ways to blame the players" while reminding his critics of his previous success at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. But while Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham have been "thrilling fans with their swashbuckling approach," Mourinho has become the arch-proponent of "parking the bus" (REUTERS, 12/18).
INTERIM BOSS: In London, Hirst, Joyce, Ziegler & Hughes reported ManU will "look to make three appointments" following the sacking of Mourinho. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is "in contention" to take over as caretaker until the end of the season. Former French national team coach Laurent Blanc is "also keen on the interim role." Tottenham Manager Mauricio Pochettino is ManU's "preferred candidate" to take over as manager at the end of the season. The club also wants to appoint a director of football. Pochettino has "gained plaudits" for the way he has brought attacking football to Tottenham and for the way in which he has "brought through youngsters from the academy." Former ManU Exec Vice-Chair Ed Woodward wants to appoint a caretaker from outside ManU but "who has knowledge of the club." Solskjaer is the manager of Norwegian club Molde but played for ManU from '96-07 (LONDON TIMES, 12/18).
'CAPTION THIS': The BBC's Simon Stone reported the sacking of Mourinho comes after a "fall-out" with £89M record signing Paul Pogba, who was an unused substitute for the defeat at Anfield on Sunday. Following a 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton, Pogba said that he wanted ManU to be able to "attack, attack, attack" at home, which led Mourinho to say that the French midfielder would no longer be the club's "second captain." After Mourinho was sacked, a post which said "caption this," along with a "knowing expression" on Pogba's face, was posted on his Twitter account before being deleted. ManU claimed it was a "scheduled marketing post" by Pogba's sponsor adidas (BBC, 12/18).
BACK AGAIN: In London, Sam Wallace reported Ferguson's long-term former assistant Mike Phelan is set to "make a dramatic return" to ManU alongside caretaker manager Solskjaer to "steer the club until the end of the season." The 56-year-old was told by Moyes that here was "no room for him" at ManU after Ferguson retired in the summer of '13 and since then has managed briefly at Norwich City and Hull City. The decision to "allow him to leave" was viewed in retrospect as a mistake with even Ferguson saying that the club was "wrong to let him go" (TELEGRAPH, 12/18).
BIG PRICE TAG: Hughes also reported ManU will have to pay Tottenham £34M ($43M) in compensation should it seek to appoint Pochettino as its new manager at the end of the season. The Argentinian signed a five-year contract at Tottenham worth £8.5M ($10.7M) per season last summer which "does not contain a release clause," leaving ManU with "no option but to buy it out in order to secure him." Tottenham made it clear to ManU and Real Madrid, which have both "coveted" Pochettino for several years, that it is "now willing to negotiate" and it will be down to the manager to "force his way out" if he wants to leave (LONDON TIMES, 12/18). In London, Matt Law reported Pochettino has "not ruled himself out of contention" to become the permanent successor to Mourinho. He said, "After nearly five years, there's a lot of rumors happened about my position as manager of Tottenham. I cannot answer this type of question. These rumors happen in football. I respect everyone's opinion, when people praise me, when they are angry with me, when they say different things. We know rumors happen. It's not my business what happens at another club" (TELEGRAPH, 12/18).