Manchester United's owners, the Glazer family, have been advised to replace current manager Louis van Gaal with Pep Guardiola or Carlo Ancelotti next summer. Former defender Rio Ferdinand believes the Dutch coach's reign is destined to fail after the club went a fifth game without a win, losing to newly promoted AFC Bournemouth.
Just days on from being knocked out of the Champions League group phase, Van Gaal's side produced another woeful display as they were defeated on the south coast via Josh King's second-half goal. A third league loss leaves them four points adrift of leaders Arsenal.
Ferdinand has been repeatedly critical of Van Gaal's regime at Old Trafford, with the onus on a defensive brand of football that has hamstrung the club's creative players and is at odds with United's footballing traditions. With the currently unattached Ancelotti and out-of-contract Bayern Munich boss Guardiola available in the summer, the club have been urged to make a change.
"Players are playing it safe because they are afraid of the consequences if they try to take chances," the six-time title-winning defender told The Sun. "Manchester United are going backwards again and I don't see that changing because the manager will not change. They have to be allowed to express themselves.
"Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti will be available this summer and the question is will they be able to do a better job than Van Gaal. The board and owners might want to be loyal to Van Gaal after investing so much in him, but they also have to do what is best for United.
"And if United finish outside the top four, that will be catastrophic. It might rule out the chance of getting either Guardiola or Ancelotti. It will be more difficult to attract the best players, too. The next six months are absolutely crucial."