Realistically, how much longer can David Moyes be given?
The six-year contract was a big vote of confidence. Sir Alex Ferguson clearly chose his successor and he almost certainly recommended the length of contract.
But Moyes has already cost more than £200m off Manchester United's share price since the beginning of the season. And irrespective of their progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League, if they miss out next season that will be another £50m or more in lost revenue.
We read in the papers of up to £200m being available for Moyes to spend in the transfer market, but is he really the right man to trust to spend the money? And more importantly, does he have the clout to attract the players that United need?
It's not just about results, although those are bad enough. The defeat to Sunderland in the League Cup was United's eighth and we are barely halfway through the season.
There are far too many worrying signs building up and Sir Bobby Charlton's face was a picture at the end of that match as he turned to his fellow Knight shaking his head. After all, he will have been involved in the approval process before Moyes was appointed.
At the time Charlton was quoted as saying that Moyes was in "awe" of everything at United and the scale of the club, but would overcome that to become a "big success" at the club.
Well, he's not. In fact, right now he's logging up just the opposite of Sir Alex's track record as he seems to be turning his new team into Everton...no not even that good.
So, he has already surrendered long unbeaten streaks to Everton, Newcastle, Sunderland and Swansea, either at home or in total. The latter had never won.
He's also racking up statistics on defeats that in some cases have stood for almost 30 years.
One particular statistic must be deeply worrying for the two Knights on the board, but is it enough for them to recommend a change?
That aspect is one that is the complete opposite of Sir Alex's reign and it is in respect of scoring or conceding the first goal.
As you would expect, even under Moyes, if United score first they usually don't lose. Under Sir Alex they almost always won. But what is more worrying is that when United have conceded the first goal this season they usually don't win - and it is happening far too often.
In the six of the last seven seasons United have averaged more than two goals and conceded less than one goal a game in the Premier League. This season so far they are scoring at 1.65 and conceding 1.2 goals a game.
You would have thought at least Moyes would have started with defensive stability when he came to Old Trafford, because Everton conceded less than 1.2 goals a game in six of his last seven seasons.
But while he turns United into Everton, his successor, Roberto Martinez is in the process of turning Everton into United: well organised, hard to beat and attacking in their play.
Frankly, any implied or direct blame on the United players simply blurs the true situation and, going back to the earlier points, there are enough warning signs to question haw long Moyes should be given.
Indeed, irrespective of United's historic loyalty to Sir Alex and Sir Matt Busby, either the owners gamble and give him at least two guaranteed years ro they should cut and run now.
Why? Because United need marquee signings right now, or at the very least in the summertime and what confidence is there that Moyes, with no track record of winning trophies and a team that is a pale shadow of itself 12 months ago, can attract any player good enough.
The most worrying statistics are these: United have already conceded the first goal 12 times this season, losing eight and winning only three of those matches. So there's the answer, because when they score first (18), they usually win (15).
The most disheartening thing of all is the abysmal record at Old Trafford, where United have already lost five times. For the last 20 years or so, home supporters have gone to the match expecting to win. At the moment they travel expecting to lose.
And it is these cold hard facts that mean any talk of retaining the title is nonsense and even qualifying for the Champions' League is a pipe dream.
So the two Knights in the boardroom and the owners have a brave decision to make, because frankly United haven't looked like winning their last three matches and the transfer window is wide open.
Do they stick with the very weak hand they currently hold, or should they hire someone like Louis van Gaal, Jupp Heynckes, or even Sir Alex himself with Gary Neville as his protege?
Or better still Jurgen Klopp, who surely has the clout to bring Marco Reus, Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan with him?
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