Louis van Gaal’s future is under the spotlight again after Manchester United’s latest defeat at home to Southampton.
The Red Devils were on a five-game unbeaten run before Charlie Austin’s late header condemned Van Gaal’s side to their sixth Premier League loss of the campaign.
The Dutchman was met by a chorus of boos as he made his way towards the tunnel at full-time, with supporters’ patience at Old Trafford at an all-time low.
United CEO Ed Woodward now has a huge decision to make: continue to back Van Gaal in the hope he can steer United to a top four finish, or sack him and find a replacement who will give the club a better chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
The club’s finances will play a huge part in that decision, with United set to lose almost £75million if they fail to make it into Europe’s elite club competition.
The board of directors, which is made up of 12 members, will eventually have the final say on Van Gaal’s future, while the opinions of non-executive directors Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Charlton and David Gill are also likely to be taken into account.
We take a look at the key people tasked with deciding whether Van Gaal’s three-year stay in Manchester will end prematurely.
Ed Woodward, Executive Vice Chairman
Ed Woodward replaced David Gill as the club’s chief executive in 2013 and was widely castigated for his failure to entice top targets to Old Trafford during his first year in the job.
Woodward has a strong working relationship with Van Gaal and reportedly pleaded with him to stay during the Christmas period, with the former Netherlands manager ready to resign after a run of four consecutive defeats.
The 44-year-old businessman is likely to give Van Gaal as many chances as possible and will only want to pull the trigger when the manager’s position becomes untenable.
Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, Executive Co-Chairmen
Malcolm Glazer owned United from 2005 up until his death, aged 85, in 2014.
When he passed away, his majority ownership of the club passed to his six children.
Avram and Joel are the two children in the most senior positions at Old Trafford and took over the day-to-day running of the club in 2006.
They rubber-stamped Van Gaal’s appointment in 2014 and will have a huge say on whether he’s given the axe.
Richard Arnold, Group Managing Director
Richard Arnold is responsible for overseeing the commercial and operational aspects of the club.
He has been employed by United in various roles since 2007 and was appointed as Group Managing Director in 2013.
Arnold is the man responsible for tying up United’s huge sponsorship deals with Chevrolet and Adidas.
The seven-year deal with Chevrolet is estimated to be worth £50million-a-year, while the 10-year-deal with Adidas is worth £75million-a-year.
Jamieson Reigle, Commercial Director
Jamieson Reigle has been responsible for managing the club’s sponsorship and licensing sales since 2015.
He is in regular communication with the club’s aforementioned sponsors, Chevrolet and Adidas, as well as countless others.
Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer has already criticised United’s style of play under Van Gaal, and United won’t want to risk further upsetting one of their main sponsors’ key employees.
Reigle was responsible for the club’s growth in the Asia Pacific region between 2012 and last year before taking up his new role as commercial director.
The remaining four Glazer children, Directors
Avram and Joel are the main Glazers involved at Old Trafford, but their four siblings all hold equal stakes in the club.
Kevin Glazer and Bryan Glazer are both directors of United as well as Red Football Ltd, the club’s holding company.
Meanwhile, Darcie Glazer Kassewitz is a director of Red Football Ltd, while Edward Glazer is a non-executive director of Red Football Ltd.
Bryan and Edward are also co-chairmen of NFL side, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Despite their minimal involvement with the United’s day-to-day running, they will still have a say in Van Gaal’s future due to the family’s ownership of the club.
Manu Sawhney, Independent Director
Manu Sawhney became United’s first Indian director in 2012.
However, when questioned about about his role after being appointed, he refused to give anything away about his specific position within the company.
“My contractual limitations don’t let me disclose anything beyond this that as a director I will be part of everything that will help the club transform into football’s biggest brand,” he said.
Robert Leitao, Independent Director
Robert Leitao, a banker, is the head of Rothschild Global Financial Business.
In 2007, a BBC report claimed he and another Rothschild employee pledged £100millon of the bank’s funds to aid the Glazers’ purchase of United in 2005.
The Glazers had intended to transfer money from a family hedge fund to buy shares in United which were then held by JP McManus and John Garnier.
However, an error made when transferring the money meant the funds hadn’t arrived with just 15 minutes to go before a 2pm deadline to make the payment.
Rothschild is reported to have stepped in and supplied the funds to save the deal for the Glazers.
According to the Daily Mail, Leitao’s role at United is to challenge the club’s executive committee.
John Hooks, Independent Director
Like Manu Sawhney, John Hooks has been on the United board since 2012.
He has been a major player in the fashion industry during the 21st century, having served 11 years as the deputy chairman of Giorgio Armani and three years as the group president of Ralph Lauren Europe and the Middle East.
Hooks is now the CEO of investment company Pacific Global Management.
Sir Alex Ferguson, Ambassador
United’s legendary manager stepped down in 2013 after 26 years and 38 trophies at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex had a huge say in selecting his successor, David Moyes, who lasted less than a year before being sacked with United guaranteed to finish the 2013-14 season outside the top four in the Premier League.
Ferguson wasn’t afforded as big of a say when it came to appointing Van Gaal, but his opinion on the Dutchman’s future will be valued, especially by the Glazer family.
The Scot always had a good managerial relationship with Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea manager who is favourite to succeed Van Gaal.
Sir Bobby Charlton, Ambassador
Sir Bobby Charlton played 758 times for United and was the club’s all-time record appearance maker until Ryan Giggs surpassed him in 2008.
He is a regular at home and away matches and remains a valued figure on the board, having become a director in 1984.
Unlike Ferguson, he is believed to have reservations about Mourinho’s suitability to the manager’s job at United and is said to harbour doubts as to whether the Portuguese can adhere to the club’s principles.
David Gill, Ambassador
David Gill was United’s CEO until 2013 when he stepped down in the same summer Ferguson called it quits.
United have since come in for criticism for letting the pair leave at the same time, as they arguably held the two most important positions at the club.
Following the loss to Southampton, Gill admitted United’s season has “undoubtedly been one of underachievement.”
Commenting on United’s drab style of play, he said: “I don’t want to talk about quality [of football] – but I’m not going to sit here and say it’s that attractive.”