Manchester United have sacked manager José Mourinho after their shock defeat to Liverpool on Sunday, the English Premier League club announced in a statement on Tuesday.

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“Manchester United announces that manager José Mourinho has left the club with immediate effect.

“The club would like to thank José for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future.

“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.”

Reports suggest that former Manchester United captain Michael Carrick will step in to take training this week, but it is not yet clear who will take charge of the team until the end of the season.

55-year-old Mourinho, who won three Premier League titles across two spells with Chelsea, took over as the Red Devils’ manager in May 2016, signing a three-year contract, with an option to stay at the club until at least 2020.

The Portuguese led United to the League Cup in 2016 and the Europa League in 2017. But despite high hopes and considerable financial backing in the transfer market, the Red Devils are currently only sixth in the Premier League, 19 points behind leaders Liverpool, who beat them 3-1 at Anfield on Sunday.

It represents United’s worst start to a Premier League season since the competition was inaugurated in 1992.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville predicted after Sunday’s game, “I’m sure Manchester United will change the manager at the end of the season at the latest, we’re all pretty certain of that.”

Mourinho’s departure has come much earlier than Neville and many others expected.