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Dec 18, 2018

Man United coach Mourinho leaves after worst start in 28 years

Jose Mourinho

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho left the club after the world’s most valuable soccer team made its worst start to a Premier League season in 28 years.

The northwest England-based club made the announcement on its website, two days after a 3-1 defeat to arch-rival Liverpool left the team 11 points away from the top four positions that will earn a place in the lucrative UEFA Champions League next season.

“The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future,” it said in a statement.

The departure is likely to come at a cost financially as Mourinho only recently signed a contract extension until 2020 and could be set for a big payoff.

Manchester United declined to say how much it would be paying for him to quit his position early, although a person with close knowledge of the club said the amount will be between 12 million pounds (US$15 million) and 16 million pounds. Such a figure would put Mourinho in a similar league to Martin Sorrell, who left WPP Plc, the advertising agency he created, in April with an exit package worth as much as 20 million pounds.

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Former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan manager Mourinho, 55, joined Manchester United in 2016, winning the UEFA Europa League, the continent’s second-tier tournament, and the domestic Carabao Cup in his first season. But United’s 26-point haul after 17 Premier League games this season is its worst tally at that stage since 1990-91, according to soccer statistics firm Opta.

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, according to the statement. Former United player and French national team manager Laurent Blanc is the 11/8 favorite to replace Mourinho, according to bookmaker Sky Bet, meaning bettors would need to wager 8 pounds to win 11. Another former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is next in the betting at 2/1.

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Manchester United Plc shares, which trade in New York, have declined about 13 per cent this year, while Stoxx’s index tracking European-listed teams has fallen about 3 per cent. A research note from investment bank Jefferies on Monday recommended clients buy the shares despite the on-field woes as the company continues to capitalize on a global fan base of 659 million people.

“We expect the brand to only gain in strength in the coming years as football continues to grow in popularity and the team maintains its tradition of excellence,” analyst Randal J. Konik wrote.