So it's official. Manchester United have sacked Jose Mourinho after two-and-half seasons in charge at Old Trafford. Only the timing came as a surprise. History tells us that the club don't sack managers mid season with David Moyes relieved of his duties four games form the end of the 2013-14 campaign and Louis van Gaal going only after the FA Cup final. But United have taken decisive action in an attempt to refloat our rapidly sinking season.
This is unchartered territory for United, coming as it has in December, and the club will appoint a caretaker manager until a new permanent boss - our fourth in five seasons - is found. Michael Carrick will take charge in the meantime but the new man will be an external appointment, ruling out Carrick and head of youth Nicky Butt. The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Mauricio Pochettino and Laurent Blanc - my choice for the job - will no doubt be in the frame.
The decision comes with United in sixth place after our worst ever start to a Premier League season in which we've lurched from one catastrophe to another. The meek surrender at Anfield was the final straw as the club's hierarchy finally lost the last ray of hope that the Portuguese could turn things around. A toxic atmosphere in the dressing room, poor form, a non existent style, a lack of development in youth and a string of failed transfers proved fatal for Mourinho's future at United.
Crushing defeats at the hands of our two fiercest and most hated rivals Manchester City and Liverpool in the space of five weeks simply has to be the death knell for any Manchester United manager - even if you're Jose Mourinho.
It's a familiar end for Mourinho after a season of unrest and tumult, and his departure comes off the back of a traumatic five months eerily reminiscent of his final days at Chelsea three years ago almost to the day. Third season syndrome has struck once again. He arrived at Old Trafford as the man we all thought would put us back on top. A short term fix, maybe, but one that would end our title drought. He leaves with us looking further away than ever. In hindsight - a wonderful thing - Mourinho was a poor fit for Manchester United. I really wanted it to work and he was my choice to become Sir Alex's immediate successor but it became increasingly apparent that Mourinho had lost control and his relationship with the squad was broken beyond repair.
United's haul of 26 points after their first 17 Premier League games,
is the worst tally in the top flight at this stage since 1990-91.
We're 11 points off the top four and closer to the relegation zone than the top of the table.
sacking comes after a fall-out with £89m record signing Paul Pogba, who
was an unused substitute for the defeat at Anfield on Sunday.
He was brought to United 2016 as the overwhelming choice to replace Van Gaal having never failed to deliver the title in his second season at the club. As it turned out, things peaked during his debut campaign in charge as United went on to win a double of Europa and Carabao Cup.
Whilst last term brought us our best Premier League finish since the retirement of Sir Alex, a trophyless campaign ultimately left Mourinho and United empty handed. That paved the way for a chain of events that have led us to this point and his dismissal.
Had Mourinho been Sir Alex's immediate successor, I believe things would have been different. The transition would arguably have been easier, not caused as much damage and United wouldn't have been in the mess we are now. A mess not entirely of Mourinho's own making but one that proved too great even for him - one of the best bosses of our generation - to coach his way out of.
The problems at Manchester United run far deeper than simply the manager - the club's hierarchy have a lot to answer for and we need a vast overhaul of playing staff to get back to where we belong.
Mourinho leaves Old Trafford after 144 games - winning 84, losing 28 with 32 draws and a 58.33% win rate - better than Messrs Moyes and van Gaal and only marginally worse off than SAF's 59.7%
United's new caretaker manager will be announced in the next 48 hours.Thanks for everything Jose and good luck in the future.