Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is reportedly "on the brink" of being sacked with many of the Red Devils players having lost confidence in him.
According to the Daily Mail's Neil Ashton, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has spoken to senior players about the Dutchman's methods, and with Van Gaal having "lost the support of the majority," he is now set for the exit door.
The Red Devils produced another meek performance on Saturday, losing 1-0 at home to Southampton, and the fans roundly booed Van Gaal as he walked down the tunnel.
Should Van Gaal be sacked as United manager?
He unexpectedly cancelled training on Sunday, and he has headed back to the Netherlands to celebrate his daughter's birthday, leaving assistant coach Ryan Giggs to take the Monday session, per MailOnline's Jack Gaughan.
While there is nothing out of the ordinary in Van Gaal returning home for such an occasion, it comes at an awkward time, given the doubt surrounding his future.
Per the Mirror's David McDonnell, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is now "odds-on" with sportsbooks to leave United before the end of the season—indeed he is the favourite to be the next Premier League manager to go, via Oddschecker.
Van Gaal's admission that he cannot meet expectations may have hinted that he is considering calling time on his tenure.
"I’m very disappointed that I cannot reach the expectations of the fans," he said. "They have—or they had—great expectations of me, and I cannot fulfil them, so I am very frustrated because of that."
Van Gaal refused to reveal whether he has lost his appetite for the fight but did concede that the United fans deserve to be angry because they have not been "entertained," per McDonnell.
Against Saints, United produced another insipid, uninspiring display, playing the type of boring football that fans have come to expect under Van Gaal.
The Manchester outfit are now five points off the top four and in danger of losing out on Champions League football next season.
Per the Sunday Times' Jonathan Northcroft, Van Gaal is unquestionably failing in his role at Old Trafford:
By all meaningful yardsticks Van Gaal is failing. Results. Entertainment. Recruitment. Development. Whenever he gets momentum it disappears.— Jonathan Northcroft (@JNorthcroft) January 23, 2016
Former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is reportedly poised to take over for Van Gaal, as he is desperate for the United job.
Per Kieran Gill of the Daily Mail, Mourinho's agent, Jorge Mendes, contacted Woodward after United's Saturday defeat to remind him that the Portuguese is willing and available should the club's hierarchy choose to sack Van Gaal.
Gill added that Mendes assured Woodward of Mourinho's confidence that he could win the league in his first season at Old Trafford, while the 52-year-old would also be prepared to tone down his off-field antics.
According to Miguel Delaney of the Independent, Mourinho wrote a letter to United, stating his desire to manage the club and promising to adhere to the club's principles—playing attacking football and developing youth talent.
Bleacher Report's Dean Jones believes that installing Mourinho could transform United's fortunes, especially with Manchester City expected to appoint Pep Guardiola in the summer:
Van Gaal seems to be heading toward the end of the road at Old Trafford, and it may not be long before Mourinho is prowling the United touchline.