Louis van Gaal deserves more time to make his mark at Manchester United, according to Jordi Cruyff.
The jury remains out on Van Gaal's two-season Old Trafford tenure, with United battling to achieve a top-four finish in the Premier League - they sit four points adrift of rivals Manchester City with six games to play - and facing an FA Cup quarter-final replay at West Ham.
Rumours that former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will replace the Dutchman ahead of the 2016-17 season persist, but Cruyff has sympathy for his compatriot.
"I think failure is a bit of a mean word so far," he told Omnisport on March 18. "There are still a lot of games left. If they do end up winning the FA Cup and finish second in the league then people will not see it as a failure. They well see it as a build-up.
"I think it's harsh and a bit too early, but it's obvious things have not gone the way they would've expected, especially after some huge investments have been made.
"I think one of the prime reasons is because they have a very young team. Young players are allowed to have ups and downs. That's part of the process.
"After 25 years of [Alex] Ferguson it's a big shock to the club when he leaves, there is a bit of a hole.
"There is a new generation. That always takes time. Maybe we didn't expect it would take so much time which is the case. Let's see, but it's obvious United are not at the stage everyone thought they would be."
Discussing Mourinho's credentials, Cruyff added: "Mourinho is an excellent manager and has had success in all the places he's worked. That's something that not a lot of people can say.
"Who the manager will be, I have no idea. At the moment [Louis] Van Gaal still has a contract and officially nothing has been said about him continuing.
"I think they are just waiting to see if they can still turn around the season and end up with a good smile."
United take on West Ham at Upton Park on Wednesday.