United will be keeping a close eye on Gary Neville's progress during his time as manager of Valencia.
There is no sense that United boss Louis van Gaal is under threat despite perceived tactical shortcomings and the unthinkable prospect of an early European exit.
But senior Old Trafford figures are starting to turn their attentions to finding a successor to the 64-year-old Dutchman whose deal expires in 2017.
Neville and LVG's current assistant Ryan Giggs will come under consideration.
Between them, the only experience the pair have in a full management role are the four games Giggs led United for as interim boss after David Moyes had been sacked in 2014.
Giggs said then that he was not ready for the role full-time and instead became Van Gaal's number two, whilst Neville will take his first game in charge of Valencia in Wednesday's Champions League tie against Lyon.
United sources have noted Giggs' improvement in the last 18 months and will now wait to see how Neville adapts to his first senior management role, with LVG and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward contacting the 40-year-old directly to wish him well.
The club know that when a replacement for Van Gaal has to be found, there will be experienced and glittered candidates eager for the job.
However, it has been noted that some may not have Premier League experience and United are thought to want someone with a knowledge of both the country and the club, so Neville and Giggs would both fall into these requirements.
Backing for Van Gaal is significant.
While it is widely accepted that United have not been hugely colourful to watch this season and a group stage Champions League exit would be a blow, faith in him remains strong.
After cutting Moyes reign short after only eight months, United do not want to be seen as a club that act on a knee-jerk whim.
They feel that criticism of the manager and his methods have been blown out of proportion, the players remains onside and rumours of dressing room disquiet have been rubbished.
Van Gaal will be given the funds to strengthen the squad both in January and next summer although it remains unlikely that he will secure a so called stellar signing.