In Brief

Mourinho out: is Man Utd manager set for the sack this week?

Portuguese boss ‘convinced’ Zidane is being lined up for Old Trafford job

Only a matter of time for Mourinho

Jose Mourinho will be gone by the end of the week, according to reports. The Mail on Sunday claims that staff at Manchester United believe the manager will sacked in the coming days.

Saturday’s wretched 3-1 defeat at West Ham marks United’s worst start to a league season in 29 years, and leaves them languishing in tenth place with just ten points, nine fewer than Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Downward spiral

That the Red Devils lie behind the likes of Watford, Wolves and Bournemouth highlights the extent of the club’s problems, and the board believe the only way to break the downward spiral is to part company with the team manager.

The Mail claims that “players and staff were openly discussing the prospect of Mourinho losing his job as they made the journey back by train to Manchester on Saturday afternoon”.

The defeat at West Ham capped a terrible seven days for United, in which they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Wolves and then knocked out of the third round of the Carabao Cup by Championship side Derby County.

Add to that Mourinho’s well-publicised spat with Paul Pogba in training, along with an alleged bust-up with Alexis Sanchez, and it paints a picture of a club in disarray.

Make or break against Valencia

A tight-lipped Mourinho answered only three questions at the post-match press conference before being led away by a club officer. The Mail believe his future hinges on the outcome of tomorrow night’s Champions League clash against Valencia at Old Trafford.

Unlike Manchester City, United began their European campaign with a win away in Switzerland against Young Boys, and victory tomorrow would indicated that in the Champions League, at least, all is well.

“When the moment is not the best, it looks like everything goes against you and today we can feel exactly like that,” Mourinho said on Saturday. “In the next match, on Tuesday, the players have to be brave and strong and try to have a better start than today.”

Growing unrest

However, defeat to Valencia would leave Mourinho’s position virtually untenable. The Mail says that United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward “cannot escape the growing unrest and lack of wins”. And since Mourinho is unlikely to walk out on his £15m-a-year contract, it may be down to Woodward to call time on his two-year stay at the club.

According to The Sun, Mourinho is “convinced” that Zinedine Zidane is being lined up to replace him in the Old Trafford hot seat, despite the Frenchman having reassured him personally that there is no such plot.

Nonetheless, says the newspaper, Zidane is seen by United as the successor to Mourinho if things don’t improve in the next week.

What they’re saying about Mourinho’s future

Mail on Sunday: “It looks he’s having an identity crisis, the club are having an identity crisis; it feels like they’re in a complete cul-de-sac and the only way out is to change leadership.”

The Guardian: “They’re in a tailspin. That this last week has happened just demonstrates that he can’t arrest this decline.”

Daily Express: “The way out for Mourinho is through the exit doors. All that is keeping him in that job at the moment is the Manchester United name and the feeling [from the board] that ‘we’ve got to do the right thing’.”

BBC Sport pundit Robbie Savage: “It’s a shambles at United, on and off the field, and I can’t sit on the fence any longer. As much as I’m a fan of Mourinho, I fear his time is running out.”

BT Sport pundit Michael Owen: “What’s the difference between Manchester United at the moment and what they’ve been for the last three or four years? They have been bang average. Every player that Jose Mourinho has, any attacking player, plays equally as well or worse. He doesn’t improve anybody from an attacking point of view.”

Former United defender Rio Ferdinand: “There are some big decisions to be made at Manchester United. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be that togetherness.”

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