Manchester United reportedly risk missing out on appointing Jose Mourinho due to their reluctance to part ways with Louis van Gaal while the season is ongoing.
That's according to Duncan Castles of the Sunday Times, who claimed the former Chelsea boss has already received offers from elsewhere, and his camp are growing impatient with the situation at Old Trafford, where the Dutchman is toiling:
He [Mourinho] has made clear his interest in taking over at Old Trafford since leaving Chelsea in December. While United initially encouraged that interest, they have not attempted to secure Mourinho to a pre-contract agreement, or offered him any verbal guarantee that he will be employed as Louis van Gaal’s successor.
That stance, coupled with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward’s insistence that he will not sack Van Gaal mid-season, has generated unease within Mourinho’s camp. The 53-year-old has not enjoyed his time on the sidelines.
Here's a look at how the Sunday Times covered the story, per Castles' Twitter feed:
Van Gaal has also insisted he’s not been in contact with Mourinho, despite the latter being heavily linked with his job at Old Trafford.
“I wouldn’t expect Jose Mourinho to call me about that, no,” said the Dutchman when asked whether the Portuguese had been in touch about the speculation, per Steve Bates of the Sunday People (h/t the Daily Mirror).
“In the football world that doesn’t happen. Nor will I ring him. If I did, then you think the stories are right, and it is not like that. I am not thinking like that.”
As noted by Bates, United have refused to comment on reports suggesting the Red Devils are to appoint Mourinho as their next boss. The pressure was cranked up further on Van Gaal on Saturday, as his team suffered a shock 2-1 loss at Sunderland.
Former England international striker Gary Lineker suggested that the loss to the Black Cats may well trigger United into pursuing Mourinho:
"Hello Ed" pic.twitter.com/9p3KIHAHVk— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 13, 2016
Although the Red Devils seemed to show some signs of improvement in recent matches, the defeat to Sunderland was full of the same flaws which have blemished their season. Going forward they were ponderous and dull, while they were unable to cope with the aggression showcased by their dogged hosts.
With the club now looking increasingly unlikely to finish in the top four spots in the table, the fingers have been pointed at Van Gaal. As we can see here courtesy of 101 Great Goals, this has been the worst season endured by a United side for many years:
How does Louis van Gaal still have a job??? pic.twitter.com/QzMbXdnG15— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 13, 2016
Mourinho may be a divisive choice, but at this juncture plenty of the club’s supporters would love to see him come in to replace the Dutchman. For all his flaws, the Portuguese is a champion and for a club previously so synonymous with lifting trophies, it’ll be a concern that since Sir Alex Ferguson departed they’ve lost touch with that winning gene.
Still, a manager like Mourinho will always have opportunities elsewhere, meaning United are playing a dangerous game if they keep him waiting much longer. If the Portuguese was to end up in another position having been a free agent since December, then the Red Devils would look very silly indeed.