David Moyes is not destined to receive the sack anytime soon, but his performance across Manchester United's next four fixtures will decide whether he remains at Old Trafford next season, according to reports.
The Scot is enduring a torrid time as Red Devils boss, highlighted by the team's dismal Champions League loss against Olympiakos. Although United aren't traditionally a sacking club, David McDonnell of the Mirror suggests patience is beginning to wear thin:
While Moyes retains the backing of the board for now, it is understood there HAS been a mood shift in the corridors of power following the 2-0 Champions League defeat to Olympiakos on Tuesday.
[...] Senior figures at United have confided they never envisaged such a disastrous season when Everton boss Moyes was hand-picked by Ferguson to succeed him last summer when he stood down after 27 years.
Moyes' tactics appeared unnecessarily negative at the Karaiskakis Stadium, a feature of United's play throughout the season. Instead of searching for an important away goal with confident attacking build-up, a clogged midfield failed to unleash lone striker Robin van Persie, who managed just 24 touches all night, per WhoScored.com.
Wayne Rooney continually dropped deep and was often seen behind the halfway line as he, Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley were unable to compete with the energy and spirit of Olympiakos' buoyant midfield. Rio Ferdinand regularly hoofed the ball aimlessly forward and United's wingers prioritised shielding their full-backs over hitting the byline.
Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News summed up the feeling that United played not to lose, rather than setting out to win:
Still don't understand why, at 2-0 down, you'd have everyone back for corners. Just invites unnecessary pressure.— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) February 25, 2014
Ian Ladyman and John Edwards of the Daily Mail suggest Moyes' next handful of results will decide his future.
"United cannot afford to hand such a massive transfer budget to the wrong man, which is why Moyes' performance in the coming weeks is so important," the aforementioned article reads.
The former Everton boss is expected to receive upwards of £100 million to improve his squad at the end of the season, perhaps a dangerous strategy if last summer's transfer failings—defined by United's inability to land Cesc Fabregas, Sami Khedira and Daniele De Rossi, per Richard Jolly of ESPN FC—are anything to go by.
Should David Moyes be sacked?
Moyes has overseen just three victories in 12 matches since the start of 2014, a run that includes seven defeats (inclusive of the penalty loss to Sunderland in the Capital One Cup).
The club are 11 points behind Liverpool in the race for the Premier League's final Champions League spot, suggesting up to £70 million is likely to be lost in television rights and prize money, reported by ESPN.
March will likely be the month that determines whether Moyes continues at the helm. United's fixtures include home ties against Liverpool, Manchester City and Olympiakos during a nine-day spell that will decide if they have anything to play for heading into April.
Should the Red Devils fail to win each of these matches, it would be the perfect time for Moyes to step aside.
Little pressure would be placed on the new manager's shoulders, who would enjoy a settling-in period with a run of seemingly meaningless games toward the end of the season. A summer rebuild would then take place, before United aim to come back stronger in 2014-15.
Moyes has shown no improvement since taking charge of United eight months ago and continues to appear overshadowed by the record of Sir Alex Ferguson before him.
Although it is unfair to expect results of the previous era so quickly, Moyes' unambitious approach and lack of progress is something even his most staunch supporters cannot argue against.
Another summer of change is looming for the Premier League champions, and as we head into March, it remains to be seen whether Moyes will oversee the transition.