Here are five options for what the future holds for Louis van Gaal and Manchester United?
Published 25/01/2016 | 12:30
Unrest and uncertainty surrounds Old Trafford, with the latest defeat for Manchester United piling the pressure on manager Louis van Gaal.
After the 1-0 loss at home to Southampton, the Dutchman admitted his side were not currently good enough.
"They [the fans] have - or they had - great expectations of me, and I cannot fulfil them, so I am very frustrated because of that," he said. They sounded like the words of a manager who knew, or at least fears, his time might be up.
The club are now five points from the top four and 10 points from the summit of the table, so will those in charge at Manchester United make a change? If they do, what might that mean for the club? Here, we take a look at the options Manchester United have...
1. Stick with Van Gaal until the end of his contract
The current boss at Old Trafford has a contract until the summer of 2017 and both he and the club have always communicated that both sides will honour it. However Van Gaal's position is becoming increasingly untenable and the lack of progress this season after the bear minimum of finishing fourth last term is concerning. The likelihood of the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona manager lasting until then look slim.
2. Make a change in the summer
The sacking of the 'chosen one' David Moyes less than a year into his contract was an embarrassing one for a club that prides itself on giving their managers time and looking at the long-term picture. Firing Van Gaal midway through the season and half-way through his contract would only add to the sense that Manchester United are just like any other club when it comes to hitting the panic button. Making a change in the summer could be a way of avoiding that. However recent results are alarming and if the club thinks his dismissal could lead to an upturn in fortunes, they may not be able to wait.
3. Sack Van Gaal and appoint Ryan Giggs
The smoothest transition if Van Gaal is sacked would be to simply promote his assistant and Manchester United's record appearance holder Ryan Giggs. He took on the job before when Moyes was fired, overseeing two wins in the four Premier League games for which he was in charge. The club could appoint the Welshman on an 'interim-basis' or permanently. The former situation would allow them to bring in someone new in the summer if they felt Giggs wasn't ready, but give them the flexibility to appoint him full time if he impressed. The latter would be popular with fans but a risk considering Giggs has never been a manager on a full-time basis before.
4. Appoint Jose Mourinho
The former Chelsea manager is the only realistic contender for the job who is currently available. The Independent understands the Portuguese covets the position, even sending the club a six-page letter outlining what he would bring to the role. Mourinho's record suggests his appointment comes with the guarantee of success, but he also brings disruption and is known for negative tactics - serious concerns for some at the club.
5. Battle for Pep Guardiola
If Manchester United can wait until the summer to make an appointment, then Guardiola is an obvious fit. The former Barcelona coach will be a free agent in the summer and has even admitted he is leaving Bayern Munich so he can come and manage in the Premier League. Manchester City are the favourites to lure him, but if Manchester United were serious, the Spaniard may not be able to turn down the opportunity at Old Trafford.
Independent News Service