LONDON • Manchester United are open to the prospect of Jose Mourinho staying beyond the end of his current contract, which expires in the summer of 2019.
Despite a run of three league wins, the English football club are sixth in the Premier League, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea.
Not since the 1990-91 season have United been so many points off the top on Boxing Day.
Nevertheless, senior figures at Old Trafford insist that they made the right decision in appointing Mourinho as Louis van Gaal's successor and are convinced that the Portuguese is taking the club in the right direction.
United's board members have been impressed by the more attacking style he has brought to the club and are confident the 53-year-old can bring Champions League football and silverware back to Old Trafford.
Despite often appearing grumpy in public, the Portuguese is said to be happy at the club and insiders claim the manager often plays practical jokes on his staff.
Even though he has yet to complete four seasons at one club, United view him as their manager for the long term.
An option exists to extend his contract by one season and, if the former Chelsea manager continues to impress, there is a view within Old Trafford that he could stay much longer.
Senior sources have played down suggestions that the coach's disciplinary problems - he has been sent off twice this season - have not gone down well with the club's hierarchy.
His decision to live in the Lowry Hotel in Manchester has been viewed from outside as a sign that the former Real Madrid coach is committed to United for only the short term.
But it is understood that Mourinho's paymasters are happy for their manager to stay in the five-star hotel in the city centre, as it gives him a connection with the United fans.
It is understood that he is footing the bill for his suite in the hotel, which is costing him around £55,000 (S$98,000) a year. That amounts to less than a day-and-a-half's work under the terms of his £15 million-a-year contract.
Mourinho will have money to spend in next month's transfer window, but the total outlay is not expected to reach anywhere near the £150-million figure the club reached in the summer.
Only long-term targets, such as Benfica centre-back Victor Lindelof, will be pursued and the club do not expect any stopgap signings. Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger can leave.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN