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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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United feared Mourinho 'instability'

Manchester United officials felt that appointing Jose Mourinho as replacement for Alex Ferguson had the potential for too much instability at the club, ESPN understands.

The Manchester United board did, however, intensely discuss the merits of appointing the Portuguese coach until quite close to the eventual announcement of David Moyes as their new manager.

Moyes was named as Ferguson's successor on Thursday, May 9, with a statement explaining the decision had been "unanimously agreed". While club sources say that it is correct, a minority of the board were quite heavily lobbying for Mourinho. Outgoing chief executive David Gill is understood to have been open to the idea.

Gill's departure, though, is one of the reasons why all ultimately agreed on Moyes. The exit of both the long-serving chief executive as well as Ferguson in the same summer will significantly alter the power structure of Old Trafford for the first time in years.

Given the possibility of a teething period, many officials felt that appointing a manager who has a consistent record of so many disputes and controversies might cause instability. Instead, Moyes better fit the club's desire to maintain a sense of business as usual.

Reflecting that, it is understood that there has not yet been any change to United's transfer plans, and that the club will pursue their long-standing interest in the new manager's old left-back, Leighton Baines.

Mourinho, meanwhile, is now virtually certain to take over at Chelsea after his departure from Real Madrid was confirmed.

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