LONDON • Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has launched a scathing attack on the club hierarchy, after reports emerged on Friday that manager Jose Mourinho will be sacked regardless of the result of yesterday's Premier League home match against Newcastle.
According to Britain's Daily Mirror, Mourinho has lost the confidence of the board, with "senior United sources" telling the paper that the 55-year-old's nearly 21/2 years in charge will end after the game at Old Trafford.
The Portuguese looked sombre as he left the Lowry Hotel in Manchester yesterday morning to prepare for the match.
However, other news outlets like BBC, Sky Sports and The Guardian reported yesterday before the match that Mourinho retains the backing of the club, with the board currently having no plans to remove him as manager.
Details also emerged of Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes' meeting with senior United figures on Friday evening in London. But, according to the Independent, the meeting was to discuss the contract renewal of goalkeeper David de Gea, another one of his clients.
Former United captain Neville, however, said that he was "furious" with how a manager's likely dismissal could be leaked before it was even made official.
The 43-year-old appeared to be taking aim at United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward when he told Sky Sports: "I have to say at this moment in time there is something rotten to the core of the decisions that have been made over the last four or five years.
Who can replace Mourinho?
Zidane won the last three Champions League titles with Real Madrid - the first coach ever to do so - but there are still doubts over his coaching credentials. The Frenchman was seen by some as more of a figurehead or facilitator who was lucky to inherit a supremely talented squad that required minimal direction.
The Italian has a track record of taking Mourinho's teams and helping them rediscover their mojo. Conte's appointment at Chelsea, five months after Mourinho was axed, was an inspired move. He wasted no time in moulding a title-winning team, but he spent the following season falling out with seemingly everyone around him and was eventually fired.
United have long courted Pochettino and the Old Trafford hot seat would give the Argentinian the opportunity to mould one of the world's greatest clubs in his image with the resources he's unlikely to enjoy at Tottenham any time soon. The question is whether he will swop what he has at Spurs with the mess at United.
The former United defender won 11 trophies with Paris St Germain and four with Bordeaux by taking a possession-based approach, focusing on his team's strengths rather than nullifying the opposition. That may come as a welcome change to United fans.
"It has to be coming from the top. If I'm the person who employs the person underneath me and he fails, eventually I've got to take the responsibility for it.
"The people in the boardroom at this moment in time who are overseeing the football operations are nowhere near good enough. They're not qualified.
"Any manager would struggle at that football club with the way in which it is operated."
Regardless of whether Mourinho is sacked, Neville took issue with how the situation mirrors that of the Portuguese manager's predecessors Louis van Gaal and David Moyes, whose dismissals were made known to the media before they were officially announced.
"It's an absolute disgrace," he said. "Where are the values and the principles of Manchester United if this is true?"
Before yesterday's clash with the Magpies, Mourinho had gone four home matches without a win for the first time in his managerial career following Tuesday's draw with Valencia in the Champions League.
United last went five matches without a victory in the 2015-16 season under van Gaal, and the last time they failed to win for five straight home games was in 1989-90. The club had also made their worst start to a league campaign for 29 years after collecting just 10 points from seven games.
Mourinho has repeatedly and publicly berated United's players this season amid reports of him having lost the dressing room mainly due to his rift with French World Cup star Paul Pogba.
He has in turn received stinging criticism from ex-players - midfielder Paul Scholes accusing him of "embarrassing" the club and defender Rio Ferdinand saying that "big decisions have to be made" over his future.
Neville, however, insisted that the board is ultimately to be blamed for the poor results.
"You have to start looking at the people who appoint the managers, the people who are bringing in the players, the people who are sanctioning the deals," he said.
"Who is qualified at that football club? (It's like) they're playing Football Manager (a computer game) with the biggest club in the world."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN