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.
Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez is reported to top Everton's list of candidates to succeed Moyes, but the Spaniard said he was only focused on his side's meeting with Manchester City in Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley.
"At this moment in time, it would be a waste of time (to think about the Everton job)," he said.
"The most important thing is to be as ready as we can on Saturday and then the two other finals we have in the league after that."
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 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."
Real Madrid coach 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, has guided United to 13 Premier League titles and two European Champions League crowns in a record-breaking spell at the club.
The British press hailed his achievements on Thursday, with the Daily Telegraph writing: "History should remember him not just as Britain's finest football manager, but the best that the world has ever seen."
News of his retirement dominated the front and back pages of the national newspapers, with the Financial Times opining that he had given a "26-year masterclass in dealing with clashing personalities".
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," said Ferguson, who is set to take up a directorial role at the club.
United's Mexican striker Javier Hernandez paid tribute to the long-serving Scot on Thursday, saying: "It's a source of pride to say I was with one of the best coaches in history.
"Something that impresses me is that he never lost his competitiveness. In spite of everything he won, he continues to be hungry. He's a winner."
Ferguson will bid farewell to the Old Trafford dug-out against Swansea City on Sunday before taking charge of United for the 1,500th and final time at West Bromwich Albion on May 19.