After decades of being the biggest fish in the English soccer pond, United had just about come to terms with the fact that the endless funds behind Chelsea and then Manchester City had enabled them to displace them in terms of spending power and trophy accumulation.

But when Liverpool, in whose shadow United laboured for so long before Alex Ferguson finally and emphatically “knocked them off their perch”, brushed them aside at the weekend to emphasise that they are now operating at a totally different level, it was the end of the line for Mourinho.

“Manchester United announces that manager Jose Mourinho has left the club with immediate effect,” the 20-times English title winners said in a brief statement.

That followed the 3-1 defeat that left them 19 points behind Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool side in sixth place and 11 points off the Champions League places.

This is their worst start to a league season in 28 years and the 29 goals they have conceded is their worst at this stage of a season for 56 years.

For the current crop of United fans and officials who gorged on success during Alex Ferguson’s 26-year reign that is just not acceptable.

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