Everton manager David Moyes was expected to be named the new manager of Manchester United on Thursday, after Alex Ferguson sent shockwaves through world football by announcing his retirement from the role.
Moyes, 50, met with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright in London on Wednesday, hours after Ferguson revealed he would be stepping down at Old Trafford after amassing 38 trophies in a glorious 26-year spell.
The Everton manager, whose contract expires on June 30, was pictured on British television fleeing from journalists who had waited for him after the meeting and jumping into a waiting car.
Kenwright, however, said the Scot would leave with the club's blessing.
"At the end of the day, David's contract is up in six weeks' time and he has a right to make his own decisions," he told Sky Sports News.
"He has served this club wonderfully well."
Kenwright added that he thought Moyes would still be in charge for Everton's Premier League game with West Ham United on Sunday, which would be his last home game at the club.
In a fresh twist to the story, United issued a statement insisting that Wayne Rooney, the former Everton striker, still has a future at the club, after reports emerged that he had asked to leave.
Several British media outlets reported that Rooney had informed Ferguson of his desire to leave the club two weeks ago, but a United spokesman said: "Wayne Rooney is not for sale."
Rooney previously issued a transfer request in 2010, only to change his mind and sign a new five-year contract.
The England striker was handed his Everton debut by Moyes at the age of 16 in 2002 and joined United two years later in a £27 million ($42 million, 31.9 million euros) transfer.
Moyes sued the player over derogatory comments about him in his 2006 autobiography, but the pair are since believed to have reconciled.
Moyes was reportedly identified by Ferguson as the man he wanted to succeed him, despite a lack of European experience and the fact he has failed to win a trophy during his 11-year Everton tenure.
Former Manchester United assistant coach Steve McClaren gave Moyes' expected appointment his backing, telling the BBC: "He's a winner and has a work ethic similar to Sir Alex.
"He's also built a dynasty and legacy at Everton. He's waited many years for this opportunity and I hope he gets it."
Moyes and Ferguson have had a close relationship and the Everton manager has long been considered one of his fellow Scot's most likely successors.
He was even considered as a possible right-hand man to Ferguson as far back as 2000, when he was in charge at Preston North End, two years before he took the Everton job.
Existing on a comparatively meagre budget at Goodison Park, Moyes's Everton have not finished outside the top eight since 2006.
Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea manager, had also been touted for the Old Trafford job, but Moyes was the odds-on favourite with all the leading British bookmakers.
Ferguson, 71, guided United to 13 Premier League titles and two European Champions League crowns in a record-breaking spell at the club.
Arguably the highlight of his career was the unprecedented Treble of 1999, which included the Premier League, FA Cup and a thrilling come-from-behind win against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
Rumours of his retirement only began circulating late on Tuesday, but Ferguson said it was a decision he had been considering for some time.
"The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly. It is the right time," Ferguson said.
"It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so," added Ferguson, who will bow out with United having wrested back the Premier League title this season from local rivals Manchester City.
Ferguson's final game in charge will be away to West Bromwich Albion on May 19.