Manchester United have on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, sacked manager Jose Mourinho after identifying a catalogue of his failings at the club.
The Portuguese, 55, took over in May 2016 and led United to League Cup and Europa League titles, but they are 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool.
The club have made a change after no progress with results or style despite spending nearly £400 million on 11 players.
They also say the new manager will understand the philosophy of the club, including their attacking traditions.
It is understood players and staff are not happy after a disappointing and unsettling period during which young players were not developed.
United are sixth in the Premier League, but closer to the relegation zone than leaders Liverpool, who beat them 3-1 on Sunday.
The decision to sack Mourinho, which will cost more than £18 million, has been taken in the long-term interests of United with a regard that the club is bigger than any one individual.
Mourinho is understood to have wanted his own structure, but the new manager will be appointed with a head of football above him reporting to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
A United statement said: “A caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the season while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager.
“The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future.”
The club hope to appoint a caretaker manager before they face Cardiff City on December 22, 2018, but it will not be assistant manager Michael Carrick or academy boss Nicky Butt.
The candidate will be drawn from outside the club, but will not be former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
A familiar conclusion to a rocky season
United’s haul of 26 points after their first 17 Premier League games is their worst tally at this stage of a season since 1990-91.
They are 11 points off the top four, which would earn a Champions League qualification place.
Mourinho’s sacking comes after a fall-out with £89 million record signing Paul Pogba, who was an unused substitute for the defeat at Anfield on Sunday, December 16, 2018.
Following a 1-1 draw with Wolves, Pogba said he wanted United to be able to “attack, attack, attack” at home, which led Mourinho to say the France midfielder would no longer be the club’s “second captain”.
Mourinho’s third season did not begin well after missing out on key transfer targets in the summer, and two defeats in the first three league games – to Tottenham at home and Brighton away – meant his side were playing catch-up with the leading teams.
By October, there were reports Mourinho might be sacked prior to the home game against Newcastle, but after the team trailed 2-0, they turned it around to win 3-2 and seemingly buy the former Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss more time.
Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes attempted to calm matters earlier this month by taking the step of issuing a statement to say his client was “very happy” and “fully committed” to the club.
Despite reaching the Champions League last 16, where United will play Paris St-Germain, they have won just one of their past six games in the Premier League.
Mourinho’s dismissal continues his run of never completing four consecutive seasons in charge of a club.
Only once has he made it into a fourth campaign, but he left Chelsea on 20 September 2007 during his first spell at Stamford Bridge.
Read more at BBC Sport