Ryan Giggs takes temporary charge of Manchester United's first team following the announcement that David Moyes has left the club, less than a year after replacing Sir Alex Ferguson as manager.
Moyes slipped into United's training base unnoticed on Tuesday morning and met with United vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
Just after 8am, Mr Woodward informed the Scot he had been sacked.
The club issued the following statement on Twitter: "Manchester United announces that David Moyes has left the club. The club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role".
The club later announced that Ryan Giggs would be assuming responsibility for the first team until a permanent appointment can be made.
Coach Nicky Butt, who is expected to form part of Giggs' interim backroom staff, left via the main exit shortly after 2pm.
Neither 40-year-old Giggs, nor any of the other United playing squad, stopped to speak to the media who had gathered outside United's training ground in anticipation of Moyes' sacking.
The futures of the men he brought in - Steve Round, Jimmy Lumsden, Chris Woods and Phil Neville - remained unclear today.
Ryan Giggs - a United legend
Ryan Giggs, 40, will assume responsibility for first-team affairs at Manchester United until a permanent manager is appointed.
Giggs, who made his debut for United aged just 17 in 1991, took up a player-coaching role at the start of this season, under Moyes.
He is United's most decorated player and marked his 1,000th senior competitive appearance for United against Real Madrid in 2013. He has won the Champions League twice and the Premier League 13 times.
Moyes was given a six-year contract when he replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in May of last year. But bad results, uninspiring performances, and growing player disenchantment during the past season will have counted against him as the club's owners and board plan for a summer overhaul of United's ageing squad.
Allowing Moyes to leave the club now, rather than letting him lead the Old Trafford side into a new season, means he will not have responsibility for a transfer budget estimated at anywhere between £150m and £200m.
Moyes' two major signings of the 2013-14 campaign, Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, have underperformed for United.
Several names are in the frame to succeed the Scot. United's experiment with the relatively inexperienced Moyes - who has never won a major trophy and who until this season had supervised only two Champions League qualifying matches - is unlikely to be repeated.
Contenders for his replacement include Jurgen Klopp, the German manager of Borussia Dortmund, and Louis Van Gaal, currently in charge of the Dutch national side. Jose Mourinho, reputedly keen to become Sir Alex Ferguson's successor before Moyes was appointed, is unlikely to leave Chelsea.
Klopp, however, wasted little time in ruling himself out of the running. The 46-year-old told the Guardian: "Man United is a great club and I feel very familiar with their wonderful fans. But my commitment to Borussia Dortmund and the people is not breakable."
There are no obvious British contenders for the job.
BREAKING: Manchester United announces that David Moyes has left the club. (part 1 of 2) #mufc— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 22, 2014
The dismissal did not come as a surprise as many national media outlets reported on Monday afternoon that Moyes was to be dismissed.
Although many fans wanted Moyes out after United's woeful season, the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) believes it was wrong for the story to leak nearly 24 hours before an official announcement was made.
"It's a PR shambles," said MUST vice-chair Sean Bones.
"Manchester United's history shows they deal with things with class and dignity but that has not been the case here.
"The story leaked before David Moyes has been spoken to, and that's not the Manchester United way. There was no dignity or class in the way they went about it."
The feeling was echoed by former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, who expressed disappointment at the way the club handled the sacking.
Neville said: "The last 15, 16 hours or however long it's been, I don't like it. It's not the way in which the club should portray itself.
"But it's the modern world, it's how things seem to be dealt with now. But I'm a traditionalist and I think it could have been dealt with a whole lot better."
United's lacklustre weekend performance at Everton, Moyes' previous club, appears to have been the final straw for the club's management.
His failure to deliver either results or an attractive style of football was brought into focus by the fact that Everton, under new manager Roberto Martinez, have become an exciting and dynamic unit.
The Everton defeat followed a series of poor displays in high-profile games. In March, United suffered a 0-3 home defeat at the hands of Liverpool, their biggest rivals. In the preceding month the team played without apparent purpose as they lost to Greek side Olympiakos, the weakest team in the last 16 of the Champions League.
It is now mathematically impossible for United to qualify for the riches on offer in next season's Champions League.
The result at Goodison Park on Sunday means it is now mathematically impossible for United, currently seventh in the Premier League, to qualify to compete for the riches on offer in next season's Champions League. Six points adrift of sixth-placed Tottenham, the club could even miss out on a Europa League place.
Manchester United undoubtedly knew when Sir Alex Ferguson stood down that the transition between English football's most successful manager and his successor would not necessarily be smooth.
But the lesson of Ferguson himself, who endured three trophy-less seasons at the start of his tenure in the late 1980s, meant that throughout the 2013-14 season the club has tried to avoid any knee-jerk reaction to failure.
21 April 2014
09 May 2013
23 January 2014
- David Moyes leaves Manchester United Manchester United
- Why Manchester United have to go for Jurgen Klopp Telegraph
- Manchester United by numbers: The statistics that show... Daily Mail