England looked like having to decide between keeping Kevin Pietersen as their captain or Peter Moores as their coach after the star batsman called for an end to the duo's "unhealthy" relationship.
The News of the World (NoW) - the Sunday tabloid in which Pietersen has a column - said there appeared "little prospect" of the pair working together on the upcoming tour of the West Indies, where England will look to gather momentum ahead of their bid to reclaim the Ashes later this year.
It added there had been a "complete breakdown in what was an already fraught relationship" and said attempts by England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) managing director Hugh Morris to broker a peace deal between Pietersen and Moores now had an "impossible" chance of success.
Pietersen, who broke off from a holiday in his native South Africa to hold talks with Morris on Saturday, stopped short of calling for Moores's sacking.
But the 28-year-old told the NoW: "This situation is not healthy, we have to make sure it is settled as soon as possible and certainly before we fly off to the West Indies.
"Everybody has to have the same aims and pull in the same direction for the good of the England team."
Contrary to earlier reports, the NoW said the exclusion of former England captain Michael Vaughan from the West Indies squad was not the cause of Pietersen's bust-up with Moores, insisting the pair had fallen out long before the tour party was announced.
Pietersen took over as captain following Vaughan's tearful resignation during August's home series loss to South Africa.
He won widespread admiration for the way he recently led England, who lost the series 1-0, back to India for a two-Test tour which risked being abandoned because of the Mumbai terror attacks.
Moores is on a one-year rolling contract and any attempt to sack him could cost the ECB as much as 250,000 pounds (363,047 dollars) and leave them scrambling to find a new coach days before England arrive in the Caribbean on January 21 for a four-Test tour.
However, a "dressing-room source" told the NoW: "There is no way Pietersen and Moores can work together, they're just too far apart.
"The ECB are damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they back KP, then there's massive problems among the backroom staff.
"But if they go with the coach, then the best player becomes disillusioned, they possibly lose a captain and there is a huge fracture."
Moores, given a chance by Saturday's Sun, the NoW's daily sister paper, to play down his row with Pietersen said: "I hope you understand that I can't really comment at this stage."
Former Sussex coach Moores replaced 2005 Ashes-winner Duncan Fletcher in the England job after last year's World Cup in the West Indies.
In Moores's 22 Tests as coach, England have won eight, lost six and drawn eight.
But seven of those victories came against New Zealand and the West Indies, two teams below England in the world rankings, while a win over South Africa, in Pietersen's first match in full charge, only took place after the series had been lost.