Jose Mourinho has told Manchester United that he will not accept another managerial job before the end of the season, but will start to explore other options if Ed Woodward has not given him the role before then.
As reported by the Guardian, Mourinho has no firm agreement with the Red Devils and has had no direct contact with club officials. Intermediaries have put a gentleman's agreement in place, but Louis van Gaal could still keep his job if they qualify for next season's Champions League, leaving Mourinho in limbo.
The former Chelsea boss is already believed to have turned down several offers, including a highly lucrative contract from China, in order to fulfil his dream of managing Manchester United, but he refuses to wait forever. In fact, if he hasn't been given the gig by the time the season comes to an end in May, the Old Trafford outfit may miss out altogether.
Manchester United face Shrewsbury in the FA Cup on Monday night and then must overturn a 2-1 deficit against Midtjylland in the Europa League round of 32 on Thursday. It is widely believed that Van Gaal will lose his job if United fail to win one or both of those games, although it is hard to envisage Mourinho being brought in before Sunday's game against Arsenal.
Indeed, Woodward, who shares a close relationship with Van Gaal, is naturally reluctant to sack him midseason. It means the Dutchman is likely to stay in charge until Champions League qualification becomes impossible, if not the end of the campaign.
The problem for Mourinho is, even if a vacancy does appear in the Old Trafford dugout, there is no guarantee that he will get it. Ryan Giggs is still widely tipped to become manager on a permanent basis. Originally, it was hoped Van Gaal could remain in charge until at least 2017 before handing the reins over to the club legend.
Woodward is under pressure to make a decision but knows hiring Mourinho will likely see Giggs leave for another club. The Special One will bring Rui Faria in as his assistant manager meaning there is unlikely to be a place on the front bench for the Welshman.
However, Mourinho's incredible record of winning major trophies makes him the firm favourite for the role. With their commercial appeal rapidly vanishing, United will not only need Champions League football but fresh silverware to keep the sponsorship deals rolling in.
One Adidas executive has already sniped at Manchester United's poor form, which would have been a major concern for Woodward. Mourinho will hardly bring exciting football to Manchester but he will, at least, deliver results.