Mauricio Pochettino is the most wanted man in Manchester.
United are eying the former Tottenham boss after a wretched start to the season which has seen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lose two of his opening three games either side of a fortune victory at Brighton.
But Old Trafford bosses are also aware that Pochettino is also seen across town at rivals City as a candidate to replace Pep Guardiola at the Etihad next summer, with the Catalan showing no sign of signing an extension to a contract that expires in seven months.
Pochettino, 48, has been out of football for almost a year after leaving White Hart Lane last November.
He made it clear in the summer that he wants to return to the Premier League after recharging his batteries.
And both Manchester clubs would offer him the kind of big opportunity he has been waiting for.
United's poor start to the campaign has brought successive home defeats at the hands of Crystal Palace and Tottenham.
And the 6-1 hammering at the hands of Jose Mourinho's Spurs last weekend has already cranked up the pressure on Solakjaer.
A shambolic transfer window which saw executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward fail to land any of his manager's top targets has deepened the feeling of crisis at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer will be given time to turn results around after delivering a return to the Champions League.
And there is an acceptance at the club that a lack of pre-season preparation following United's progress to the semi-finals of the Europa League in August has left the squad under prepared.
But Paul Pogba's come-and-get-me plea to Real Madrid during the international break has also strengthened belief inside the club that a more forceful managerial presence is required.
And United are also mindful that Pochettino is not going to be on the market forever.
The Argentine also has his admirers at City – and Guardiola's future continues to be a regular subject of conversation amongst the players.
He insisted at the start of the season that he is open to extending his stay in Manchester beyond this fifth year.
But Guardiola's body language has been dour as City have also endured a tricky start to the season, dropping five points from their opening three games.
This is the longest period the Spaniard has spent at any club.
Guardiola waited until a month before the end of his contract at Barcelona before announcing he was leaving to take a sabbatical in 2012.
And at Bayern Munich he left his decision to reject the German club's offer of a new contract until the Bundesliga's winter break in December 2015.
Guardiola's wife, Cristina, has spent most of the last year back in Barcelona so she can look after her fashion business.
The optimism of City's opening win at Wolves has since been tempered by a 5-2 home defeat at the hands of Leicester and a draw at newly-promoted Leeds.
After winning back-to-back titles in spectacular fashion, the Blues finished 18 points adrift of Liverpool last season.
And the blame for a 3-1 Champions League quarter-final defeat at the hands of Lyon lay with their manager.
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City were expected to make a statement of intent in the transfer market after being cleared of FFP breaches on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
But despite spending £120million to recruit Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres, there are still glaring weaknesses in their squad.
Sergio Aguero's latest injury absence has once again illustrated how much City rely on a striker who is now aged 32.
And Guardiola also has issues to address at left-back and in central midfield.
Like his counterpart at Old Trafford, the City boss has not been helped by his team's participation in Europe over the summer.
But with City needing clarity, the future remains shrouded in doubt.
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