Jose perfect for United if van Gaal leaves
If van Gaal goes, the Portuguese is the ideal man to take over immediately at Old Trafford
He could be the right man or the man for right now, which leaves Manchester United staring at Sophie's Choice.
As Louis van Gaal braces himself for a defining 24 hours over his tenure at one of the biggest sporting institutions in the world, the identity of his successor poses an increasing conundrum.
Football's managerial merry-go-round has placed the game's two most coveted men in contention to replace the beleaguered Dutchman.
It is a predicament which the Old Trafford hierarchy can ill afford to get wrong.
In an era already blighted by successive misguided appointments since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, a third error of judgment could have far-reaching implications on the club's stature.
Van Gaal may have already feared the worst as he trudged off after the final whistle, with the boos from the stands ringing in his ears following the embarrassing 2-1 loss to Norwich City at Old Trafford on Saturday.
United's desire to become winners again still seems a long way off as they have now gone six games without a win and many blame it on the pragmatism and predictability of van Gaal's methodology.
Following 18 months where the only success has been derived from possession statistics, there is no longer a willingness among many of the club's faithful to "pay attention to the manager".
That spells danger for the Dutchman and if the board decide his time is up, then Jose Mourinho represents a logical fit for United in both timing and persona.
Chelsea's newly-deposed manager has sent out a clear message that he still has business to tend to in the English Premier League.
Should he take the reins, the flair synonymous with the much-vaunted "United way" will not make a return.
Other institutional hallmarks would invariably be sacrificed for his blueprint, notably the club's long-standing policy of promoting home-grown prospects.
But the Portuguese will instil traits last seen in the days of Ferguson's all-conquering sides by again overpowering opponents through a combination of strength and tactical guile, both currently conspicuous by their absence under van Gaal.
Mourinho's path to Old Trafford has been carefully crafted ever since his celebratory touchline sprint as Porto knocked United out of the Champions League in 2004.
He has generally avoided the antagonism and faux pas that culminated in his current level of infamy with clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and even Barcelona.
His rapid fall from grace and alienation in the dressing room in his final months at Stamford Bridge provides an obvious cause for concern, particularly given the acrimonious circumstances in which Juan Mata was allowed to depart for United.
So, too, does his short-term approach which inevitably unravels by the third full season, as it did again last week.
But the parameters at United differ greatly from those at Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan.
Power reverts to one source - the manager.
Despite the club's grandiose reputation, with three-tiered stands and regular sightings of the rich and famous sitting in the plush and expensive seats at Old Trafford, and money-spinning partnerships across the globe, United remain enslaved to a traditional footballing ethos.
It is why there is an apprehension to be drawn into the unsightly business of technical directors and a rapid fire-and-hire policy, which has seen United stop short of jettisoning van Gaal.
They have never been afraid to sack managers mid-season, just ask Wilf McGuinness, Frank O'Farrell and Ron Atkinson. However, pulling the trigger on two in three seasons would erode at the mystique behind the power of the throne.
As the football world continues to hold its breath over Pep Guardiola's next port of call, United cannot afford to stand still.
Bayern Munich's outgoing manager is unlikely to be enticed by the challenge of major rebuilding work in the red half of Manchester.
The prospect of a far comfortable existence, aided by the familiarity of his former Barcelona aides in the blue half, makes United and Mourinho increasingly compatible bedfellows.
He is a serial winner and right now, he may actually be as good as it gets.
"Jose Mourinho: he’s taking your job."
— Norwich fans taunting Louis van Gaal after Manchester United lost 2-1 to the Canaries on Saturday
LVG worries about future
Man United have hit a total of only seven shots on target in their last four EPL home games.
Louis van Gaal admits he does fear the sack - but insists he is still the right man to lead Manchester United.
Under-pressure United boss van Gaal is facing even greater scrutiny after his side suffered a shock 2-1 loss to Norwich at home on Saturday, their first home defeat of the season and Norwich's first win at Old Trafford since 1989.
It was United's sixth game without a win in all competitions, their third successive defeat, which saw them booed after the game.
Asked if he feared for his position, van Gaal said: "Yes, of course I am worried about that because I know that belief in a manager is very important, and when you lose the games you play, then the belief in a manager shall decrease. That is happening now. I cannot close my eyes to that."
But asked if he still believed in himself, van Gaal added: "Yes, I think so. I don't think a change of management shall bring direct success - but that is what I believe. Maybe that is not so interesting."
The 64-year-old does accept that things are not going well, admitting United's current run is one of the low points in his illustrious managerial career.
The former Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Ajax and Holland manager said: "I am always evaluating myself because I think that is an aspect of the philosophy I have. But the philosophy is also making an evolution - I am not the same coach I was 25 years ago.
"So, you are always evaluating and of course that philosophy is very important for me. Because of that I am - or maybe I have to say now, was - a very successful manager."
United started brightly against the Canaries but did not test opposing goalkeeper Declan Rudd and were caught out by breakaway goals from Cameron Jerome and Alex Tettey either side of half-time.
Anthony Martial pulled one back as United rallied in the closing stages but it was not enough.
Van Gaal said: "What you have seen today is what a lack of confidence can do.
"It was not good enough. It is also confirmation we are in a very bad period and we have to come out of that bad period."
If the Red Devils are unable to shrug off their poor form, former Everton striker Tony Cottee believes a decision will have to be made over van Gaal.
Cottee said on SkySports: "Players are playing below par and there is too much responsibility on Martial's shoulders.
"There were countless times where the ball went flashing across the face of goal in both halves and there wasn't a Javier Hernandez or James Wilson there for the simple tap-ins - there was no one in the box."
Hernandez, who was sold to Bayer Leverkusen by van Gaal, has just notched his 19th goal in 22 games - 12 more than United's top scorer Wayne Rooney.
"United had just two shots on target, which is incredible at Old Trafford.... You are not going to win football matches with that."
Cottee believes van Gaal would last until the New Year at least as the festive fixtures are coming up. United travel to Stoke on Saturday and host Chelsea next Monday.
He also feels that van Gaal, who had splashed out £250 million ($526m) during his 18-month spell at Old Trafford, should not be handed more money.
He said: "A lot of the money they have spent has been wasted, I wouldn't give van Gaal any more money in the January transfer window."
- Wire Services.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7
Man united have hit a total of only seven shots on target in their last four EPL home games.