Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is facing a grilling from the club's investors today that could include uncomfortable questions about David Moyes' future and the threat of missing out on the Champions League.
United face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium tonight having fallen nine points adrift of a Champions League qualification position following Sunday's 2-2 draw at home to bottom team Fulham.
But with the club, who are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, due to announce their second-quarter financial results this lunchtime, Woodward and Michael Bolingbroke – United's chief operating officer – are to hold a conference call with investors to discuss the results and outlook for the coming months.
While the quarterly figures are expected to reveal a continuation of the club's commercial growth, the potential loss of Champions League earnings and a reduction in Premier League prize money this season could prompt investors to question the club's strategy.
United's share price in New York has dropped in recent weeks, coinciding with the team's five defeats in nine games and elimination from both domestic cup competitions.
And while United's owners, the Glazer family, are understood to remain supportive of manager Moyes, the Scot's failure to keep the team competitive after succeeding Alex Ferguson last summer may also be raised with Woodward and Bolingbroke during today's conference call.
During a terse pre-match press conference at United's Carrington training ground yesterday, Moyes insisted that his players were capable of reviving their season with a positive result at the Emirates tonight. United defeated Arsenal 1-0 at Old Trafford last November on the only occasion this season that Moyes has been able to field a full-strength team and the manager claims a repeat performance is possible.
He said he believed the team could reproduce that victory "because we have done it before". He added: "It was a really good performance just before the international break and we went away in a really good period.
"Probably since that period we have been a bit rocky. After that win, we were getting into a stronger position but we just never picked up."
Despite United lying seventh and his tactics being criticised by Fulham's manager Rene Meulensteen and defender Dan Burn, Moyes insisted his approach was right. "We will just keep doing the job, because I know that we're doing the right job," he said. "We'll do the same things. We'll make sure things are right – prepare the players well and things will change, I have no doubt."
Asked if recent results suggested he should change his methods, he replied: "I disagree with that."
United face Arsenal having collected 21 fewer points than at the same stage last season, but Moyes said that was down to many factors.
"There have been a lot of improvements from sides in the Premier League and, obviously, we've not done as well as last year. I think there are certain different reasons for it, I don't think there's any particular one. The change of manager being one of them, but lots of other things as well." (© Daily Telegraph, London)