Senior figures inside Old Trafford are questioning whether Jose Mourinho is the right man to lead Manchester United in the wake of Tuesday's humbling Champions League defeat by Sevilla.
Mourinho retains the total support of United chief Ed Woodward, but some boardroom members are uncomfortable with the style of football being played by the Portuguese coach and fear that it could be several years before his team are serious contenders for the Premier League title.
Mourinho's side were dumped out of Europe following a lifeless performance as they were beaten 2-1 at home to Sevilla. It has put huge pressure on Saturday's game against Brighton in the FA Cup which now represents United's only hope of a trophy this season.
Jose Mourinho's approach has been questioned by some Manchester United board members
Even if Mourinho can add to his Europa League and League Cup success last season, however, there are reservations over the way he is managing.
Concern over United's cautious style came to a head after the Sevilla defeat and Mourinho has been criticised for not getting more out his squad despite spending £300million.
Supporters have found it even harder to accept because Manchester City have played such cavalier football under Mourinho's nemesis Pep Guardiola.
It has raised doubts within Old Trafford about just how Mourinho — who won the title in his second season at four previous clubs — will close the gap on City next season.
The FA Cup remains the last realistic chance of silverware for United this season
'Jose is not the manager we thought he was,' said one senior source on Wednesday night. 'We are worried. We know the fans hate the football, and we won't win the league for three or four years. He's also too insecure and gets involved in things away from the football.'
Mourinho's abrasive style has not gone down well with the more conservative element in the United boardroom, even though Woodward accepts that it is part and parcel of employing the 55-year-old former Chelsea boss.
Despite an acceptance that he has been less confrontational this season, he has still become embroiled in a series of public spats with rival managers and TV pundits. The latest was an unexpected and brutal putdown of former Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer on the eve of the Sevilla defeat.
It is understood that Mourinho did not admonish his players after the game, choosing instead to go into the away dressing-room to congratulate the Spaniards who reciprocated with applause for the United manager.
Mourinho's side were overcome by Sevilla in the last-16 of the Champions League
MAN UNITED'S RECORD UNDER JOSE MOURINHO
Premier League - 6th
FA Cup - Quarter-finals
EFL Cup - Winners
Europa League - Winners
Community Shield - Winners
2017/18 (so far):
Premier League - 2nd
FA Cup - Quarter-finals*
EFL Cup - 5th round
UEFA Super Cup - lost
'I'm really happy that every United player is sad and didn't hide that sadness,' he said later. 'It is something that pleases me because I feel exactly the same.'
The feeling in the United camp afterwards was that Alexis Sanchez and substitute Paul Pogba, in particular, had let the team down in a limp display.
Some players also feel that Romelu Lukaku is short of being a world-class striker even though the Belgian scored his 24th goal of the season to briefly revive United's hopes.
'Not a happy ship,' was how one dressing-room source described it.
The players were given the day off but those thinking of going to Cheltenham races wisely decided to abandon the plan.
'There is no excuse,' said midfielder Nemanja Matic. 'We know our supporters are sad because of this result. We are also sad so I hope the team's reaction is good.'