The Glazer family owners are now more open to the idea of a change of manager, although they presently remain behind Moyes, but the next week could prove decisive, sources said. Over that time, United must overturn a 2-0 deficit in the Champions League against Olympiakos, before facing an awkward trip to West Ham United and then a potentially daunting second derby of the season against Manchester City.
While qualification for the quarter-finals of the Champions League would be seen as a huge positive and possibly change the entire dynamic of his job, an elimination followed by poor performances in the two games after that could well bring the pressure to breaking point. The Glazers are said to have become very “nervous” about the nature of recent performances, let alone the results, with a nadir coming in the 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool. Some United officials now openly maintain that a managerial change is needed.
Old Trafford sources also state it has been noted that Alex Ferguson is no longer so vocally backing Moyes at boardroom level, although the former manager is not said to have turned against his replacement. It is also believed Moyes retains the backing of Bobby Charlton.
Doubt, however, has increased at virtually every level of the club. Despite the poverty of recent performances, sources state that one of the most influential factors now has been financial concerns. A number of recently signed-up sponsors and commercial partners have reportedly let it be known to the club that they are less than enthused with now being linked to failure, especially since they specifically came on board because of the reputation for extreme success.
This is said to have most unnerved the hierarchy, and long-term damage to United as a “brand” could be the clinching point in any decision. While the club have long planned for a season out of the Champions League – and that was known to be one initial reason behind the previously unwavering support for Moyes – any extra negative effect on commercial revenue would be viewed with utmost seriousness.
Sources also state Louis van Gaal would be interested in a potential summer move to Old Trafford, and that the Dutch coach is a little less intent on the Tottenham Hotspur job than he was a few weeks ago. Spurs had felt that Van Gaal’s appointment after the World Cup was virtually certain, but it is now more open-ended.