Special One becomes the Surly One as his dream job ends in tears
Jose Mourinho reportedly cried when he heard he had not been chosen as the heir to Alex Ferguson's throne at Old Trafford.
Five years on, having finally landed his dream job, Mourinho's United tenure also ended in tears.
The axe finally fell on the Portuguese yesterday. It was an increasingly inevitable divorce as Mourinho fell out with senior squad members, blamed his superiors for a lack of backing in the transfer market and oversaw a drastic deterioration in performances and results on the pitch.
Sunday's 3-1 defeat by bitter rivals Liverpool, which left United 19 points off the English Premier League leaders after 17 games, proved the final straw.
After David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, a third manager sacked in four years suggests there is far more to be fixed behind the scenes at the world's richest club than a new name on the manager's door.
Former club captain Gary Neville raged at a club "rotten to the core" when rumours over Mourinho's future first circulated and after the Liverpool defeat described United's board as "so naive it's unbelievable".
But Mourinho did little to help himself, particularly in a short-lived third season, which has become an unwanted hallmark of his managerial career.
His departure from Old Trafford came a day after the third anniversary of his sacking from a second spell at Chelsea just six months after winning the title with the Blues.
For the first time since leaving provincial Portuguese side Uniao de Leiria for local giants Porto in 2002, Mourinho leaves a club having failed to win a league title.
He did deliver silverware. Winning the League Cup and Europa League in his debut season, and even claiming the Community Shield, a glorified friendly curtain-raiser to the season, as a hat-trick of trophies.
United's highest league finish since Ferguson's retirement followed last season, but it was still only second best to local rivals Manchester City, and by a record 19-point margin.
The seeds of disharmony were also sown last season. Mourinho routinely dropped the club's most expensive signing, £89 million (S$155m) midfielder Paul Pogba, to start a power struggle he has ultimately lost. Pogba sat on the bench for the full 90 minutes at Anfield on Sunday - he has not started any of United's past three league games.
The French World Cup winner was not alone. Mourinho was stinging in his public criticism of Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial, among others.
The man who introduced himself to English football as the "Special One" and proved it by delivering Chelsea's first league title for 50 years was now the Surly One.
In a recurring theme from his third seasons at Real Madrid and in his second spell at Chelsea, Mourinho's message quickly fell on deaf ears.
His cautious nature also clashed with the 20-time English champions' tradition of attacking football.
But, as his previous spells in Madrid and at Stamford Bridge show, when a results-driven manager starts losing, there is nothing left to save his job. - AFP