David Moyes is facing the sack by Manchester United, who have finally run out of patience with him and do not believe he can be trusted with the £150m overhaul the club intends to carry out this summer.
The manner of Sunday's defeat to Everton underlined how far the club have fallen in the 347 days since Moyes took over from Sir Alex Ferguson and the Glazer family now appear to have reached the conclusion that continuing with the 50-year-old would risk an extended period outside of the European elite, which the club cannot afford to take. It would make his reign even more undistinguished than the 18 months Wilf McGuiness was given when succeeding Sir Matt Busby.
Though United had been aiming to make the Scot's departure a graceful one when United's Premier League season ends at Southampton on May 11, he could leave imminently. Any attempt on his part to seek a clarification about his own future is unlikely to secure the reassurance he would be looking for. Without such assurances, he would be likely to tender his resignation and the United board would be likely to accept.
Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp, the Dutch national manager Louis van Gaal are high on the list of possible replacements, with the prospect of a return to Old Trafford by Laurent Blanc, currently Paris Saint Germain manager, not to be ruled out. The job done by Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone also makes him a contender.
Though Sir Alex Ferguson was adamant that Moyes should be given the time that he was allowed, when he took United through some very dark days in the late 1980s, he has become increasingly desperate about United's fall to a level . Moyes performances has called into question the judgement of the former manager in insisting that the Scot should succeed him.
Moyes is understood to have known after the desperate 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool on March 16 that he was skating on extremely thin ice and would have quit then if chief executive Ed Woodward had wanted him to. But the board told him at that stage that they were willing to let him tough things out.
The manner of the Champions League quarter final defeat to Bayern Munich may have strengthened his position. But the defeat to Everton - a side possessing all the confidence and self-expression that United lack - has left United with the conclusion that Moyes - who was appointed a mere 347 days ago - is not the man to lead them back.
Klopp is likely to feature highly on the list of possible replacements, with the dismantling of his own side underlined by the loss of Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich this summer possibly convincing the German that he can take the club no further. United chief executive Ed Woodward is an enthusiast for the way that Dortmund are run. Van Gaal is thought to have delayed making any commitment to joining Tottenham Hotspur as Tim Sherwood's successor until the United situation is resolved.
The old guard of Ferguson's era have felt for weeks that Moyes is not capable of taking United on, with Paul Scholes acute criticism of the side in the 3-0 home defeat to Manchester City last month underlining his profound doubts. Former captain Gary Neville, who insisted last December that it was an "insult" even to consider Moyes' future, observed towards the Everton game that United's meek display was as ambitious as it had got for the club this season.