Manchester United could appoint Jose Mourinho before the end of the month.
Saturday’s 2-1 capitulation at Sunderland alarmed the club’s board.
But just as concerning was Louis van Gaal giving up on a top-four spot.
United had been ready to stick with the Dutchman, 64, until the summer.
Now they believe they will lose nothing by swooping for the ex-Chelsea boss before their next league game at home to Arsenal on February 28.
Before that they play two legs in the Europa League against Danish minnows Midtjylland with the FA Cup trip to Shrewsbury sandwiched in between.
And, as we reveal today, Van Gaal has taken only a short-term let on his new home, meaning he could leave at any time.
Despite having spent £250million under LVG, United have their worst-ever points total at this stage of a Prem season, with 41 from 26 games.
They have won just 11 of those and have scored the least goals of the top seven with 33.
United are convinced now that a move for Mourinho would be popular with supporters.
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The club pay close attention to fans’ views in polls and on social media.
Mourinho is ready to move when United make their final call — which is now looking sooner rather than later.
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