Jose Mourinho’s position as Manchester United manager is not under immediate threat, senior figures at the club have said, denying a report he was set to be sacked next week.
United are struggling in 10th place and last week’s 3-1 loss to West Ham made it the club’s worst start to a league campaign in 29 years.
The Daily Mirror reported late Friday that Mourinho would be dismissed regardless of the result of United’s match at home to Newcastle on Saturday.
But senior figures at United told Press Association Sport that Mourinho would retain his job for the immediate future.
The agency reported that United look set to give Mourinho the upcoming international break to turn things around at Old Trafford.
Tuesday’s goalless Champions League draw against Valencia in the Champions League also meant the former Chelsea boss had gone four home matches without a win for the first time in his managerial career.
In his pre-match press conference on Friday, Mourinho accepted that the performance was not good enough.
“We are better than this and because we are better than this, our situation is going to improve. I have no doubts about that,” he said.
Eyebrows were raised when the press conference, called for the unusually early time of 8:00 am (0700 GMT, 10am EAT), lasted a mere eight minutes and 29 seconds.
Mourinho claimed United had overachieved in finishing second last season, 19 points behind champions Manchester City, and said he always expected this campaign to be more difficult.
“I think opponents with much more potential than us finished behind us,” he said.
“That is the reason why it was a phenomenal season.”
United became a byword for managerial stability during Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden 26-and-a-half years in charge.
But were Mourinho to be dismissed, it would mean United had got through three full-time managers, plus club great Ryan Giggs’s spell as caretaker, in the five years since the legendary Scottish boss retired in 2013 – a period that has coincided with the club failing to win either the Premier League or Europe’s Champions League.
Former United and England full-back Gary Neville, one of Ferguson’s most dependable players, said such an attrition rate went against the “principles and values” of the club.
Asked if United would be right to sack Mourinho, Sky Sports pundit Neville replied: “No. To be honest I’m furious.
“I’m furious going back three, four years ago when David Moyes was sacked, when it broke a day before to journalists.
“I think of Louis van Gaal being sacked the evening of a cup final and finding out from other people.”
In what appeared to be an attack on Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, Neville added: “At the end of the day this is now going on five or six years and I have to say that any manager – Jose Mourinho is one of the best managers in the world – and I think in this moment in time any manager would struggle in that football club, the way in which recruitment is handled, the way in which it operates.
“Enough is enough for me… I have to say something has to change and it isn’t the manager, it’s above that.”