The reason Man United have not sacked Jose Mourinho

Man United’s history for sacking managers in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era is likely to give Jose Mourinho a lifeline if they suffer a third successive defeat at Burnley on Sunday.

Some United players aren’t sure if Mourinho will make it to Christmas, mindful what happened in the final months at Chelsea when he was sacked on December 17.

 The last time United lost three consecutive EPL matches was December 2015, when Louis van Gaal presided over a dismal December which included being knocked out at the Champions League group stage in Wolfsburg.

Mourinho suffered three straight losses in September 2016 but a Europa League reverse at Feyenoord was sandwiched between setbacks against Man City and Watford.

Ed Woodward, the United executive vice-chairman, was widely expected to dismiss van Gaal midway through his final campaign but resisted since United had a home fixture with Chelsea two days later.

After the 2-0 surrender at Stoke on Boxing Day, United were sixth and behind Crystal Palace but only 3 points off a Champions League qualifying spot. Woodward attended a high-profile meeting in London that was commercial-related and van Gaal’s future was not discussed.

Despite 5 more months of mediocrity, United were still in contention with City to finish fourth on the final day in a freakish EPL season that saw Leicester crowned champions. City clinched the point they needed at Swansea to finish above their neighbours.

Van Gaal was given a stay of execution only because he had guided United to their first cup final since Ferguson had retired. By the time of the Wembley encounter with Crystal Palace, Woodward had already decided to sack the Dutchman and appoint Mourinho, having been in dialogue with the Portuguese’s agent Jorge Mendes for more than 4 months.

David Moyes was jettisoned more immediately since United were ejected from the Champions League by Bayern Munich 11 days before their 2-0 defeat at Everton, which ended their fading hopes of securing a Champions League qualifying berth. Woodward decided to discharge Moyes the next day but, since it was Easter Monday, his removal was not confirmed until the Tuesday.

United returned to the Champions League under Mourinho via their Europa League triumph last year and comfortably qualified through a second-place finish last term. Unless results worsen, unrest at the club becomes untenable or Zinedine Zidane considers an alternative club, Woodward is expected to sweat it out with Mourinho as long as Champions League qualification is still possible.

Mourinho is understood to retain the board’s backing and a source said they were not interested in Zidane.

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