Louis van Gaal has been talked out of quitting as Manchester United manager by the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
The Dutchman offered to resign after the shocking 1-0 home defeat by Southampton on Saturday, but Woodward encouraged him to discuss his future with his family.
Van Gaal returned to Holland on Sunday and will now have fresh talks with Woodward today when he is expected at the club for first-team training.
Woodward wants Van Gaal to fight on as Old Trafford boss, but the 64-year-old may decide to walk away — and if United lose to Derby County in the FA Cup on Friday he is expected to jump ship.
Van Gaal admitted publicly for the first time on Saturday that he had failed the United supporters.
His comments came after boos had accompanied him from the field at the end of the Premier League defeat.
According to reports, Van Gaal told players and staff not to report to Carrington on Sunday for post-game drills — and that Monday’s training day was also postponed.
The pressure on the former Holland boss has been increased by former chief executive David Gill’s comments.
Gill, who is on the board of directors at the club, said: “We all hoped results would be better. I know everyone at the club is working hard to turn things around. We have to stick together.”
But it is Woodward who is solely responsible for Van Gaal’s future.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the club’s most successful manager who is now a director, has no knowledge of Woodward’s thinking regarding Van Gaal.
Woodward talks daily with Joe Glazer, the joint-chairman, and the American family will back Woodward whatever he decides.
The best scenario from the United board’s perspective is to get through to the end of the season and then amicably part company with the Dutchman, ahead of a more orderly succession.
United may also make a move for an out-of-work Jose Mourinho, whose management style remains a source of deep uncertainty at Old Trafford.
Another person who has been suggested as a possible successor to Van Gaal is Ryan Giggs, who is the former Barcelona chief’s assistant.
The 42-year-old former Wales international has been at Manchester United, both as a player and a coach, since 1990.
Van Gaal’s side managed just one shot on target against Southampton and have gone eight hours and 26 minutes without scoring in the first 45 minutes of games at Old Trafford.
It has also emerged that Gareth Bale gave serious consideration to a move to United when the club offered Real Madrid a world record £100m for him last summer.
The state of uncertainty at Old Trafford, however, is thought to have contributed to him being persuaded to forget the idea.
After United’s offer came in, Bale was persuaded by then manager Rafael Benitez, with whom he enjoyed a good relationship before the Spaniard was sacked by Real three weeks ago, that his future lay in Madrid. But the 26-year-old will also need persuading that United — who have now twice offered world record sums for Bale — have a cogent strategy in place and can offer him success, if they are to make a successful third move for their target this summer.