LONDON • Steve McClaren's future at Newcastle United remained in a state of damaging limbo on Monday night although the former England coach is expected to be sacked within the next 24 hours.
On Monday, Newcastle's board met to formalise crisis talks which had begun on Sunday after the 1-3 surrender against Bournemouth at St James' Park the day before.
Lee Charnley, the managing director, Graham Carr, the chief scout, and the club ambassador, Bob Moncur, met in York where alternatives to McClaren were discussed and a process of "due diligence" began on the potential of certain candidates to lead an escape from relegation.
Two notable absentees were owner Mike Ashley, who remained in London but will make the final decision, and McClaren, whose position as a director has always been somewhat semantic.
Keith Bishop, a key adviser to Ashley, is said to have been in frequent contact with Charnley, who has been reluctant to dismiss McClaren and was not prepared to rush into a hasty sacking.
Despite Newcastle being second bottom of the Premier League, there is believed to be no lack of out-of-work managers interested in the potential vacancy.
24 Points accumulated by Newcastle so far this Premier League season, as they lie one point adrift of 17th place and safety from relegation.
5 Defeats in Newcastle's last six Premier League matches.
That is understood to include two former Liverpool managers, Rafael Benitez and Brendan Rodgers, and the former Everton and Manchester United manager David Moyes.
With the former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson also available, Newcastle have much to ponder.
McClaren is thought to have waited for news of his fate at his home on Teesside on Monday while his players had a day off before preparations for their trip to play league leaders Leicester next Monday.
Given that neither Benitez nor Moyes is likely to be overly enamoured with Newcastle's management structure, under which the head coaches and Carr and Charnley take care of recruitment, this painful hiatus could well endure while protracted negotiations take place.
Even so, time is short and the prospect of losing countless millions by missing out on the next television deal could yet prompt Ashley to reach a swift decision, identifying a coach he believes capable of bringing the best out of an underperforming squad.
The Magpies, on 24 points, are a point adrift of 17th-placed rivals Sunderland and safety.
It appears Newcastle forward Ayoze Perez feels some form of change is imperative.
"In some moments we are not a team, we are not as one," he told BBC Radio Newcastle.
"Something has to change. It's not enough - we have good quality in the dressing room but during this season, we have not shown it.
"We need to be a team. I don't know what happened but we have to change something.
"We have to think that we have 10 finals. It doesn't matter how, we have to be a team and try to get points as soon as possible because we are in trouble.
"It's our turn, we have to give (the fans) something special because Newcastle, the club, and the fans don't deserve the situation.
"I don't know what's going to happen but, right now, Steve McClaren is our manager and we have to be with him."
Meanwhile in an open letter to the club, key supporters' group NUFC Fans, demanded action before it is too late.
"Whilst we still have 10 games to go, NUFC Fans cannot accept the current work ethic of the players," it read.
"Someone, somewhere has to be accountable and decisions must be made."