Monday 24 October 2016

Mark Hughes' Stoke can turn up the heat on Louis van Gaal

Published 22/12/2015 | 17:21

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is well aware of the pressures facing Louis van Gaal at Manchester United
Stoke boss Mark Hughes is well aware of the pressures facing Louis van Gaal at Manchester United

Mark Hughes does not expect Louis van Gaal's reputation to save him if his Manchester United side continue to under-perform.

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United boss Van Gaal is under heavy pressure at Old Trafford after a sequence of poor results and an even longer spell of uninspiring performances.

Jose Mourinho - who left Chelsea last week - has been heavily tipped as a potential successor should United decide to sack the veteran former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Holland manager.

And Hughes, a revered former United striker, could turn up the heat even more if his Stoke team condemn Van Gaal's men to a fourth successive loss on Boxing Day.

Hughes said: "I said last week when Jose lost his role that no-one is immune. It doesn't matter what you have done in the game previously, and his record as a top-line manager is exceptional, you have to win football matches.

"He has been in the game a long, long time and he knows better than most if the results and perception is you are not doing particularly well, you come under pressure. He understands that. We all do."

United have lost their last three games in all competitions and not won in six - a run which has seen them eliminated from the Champions League and slip to fifth in the Barclays Premier League.

The team were booed off after losing to Norwich on Saturday and Hughes is well aware of the expectations fans have at United.

He said: "I think with all Man United teams there is a responsibility and an onus on the players to go out and perform and play like Man United players, and understand what the demands of being part of a big club like Man United entail.

"There's a responsibility to entertain, I would suggest. That's always been the Manchester United way. It's always been woven into the fabric of the club and the teams that have put the shirt on. It's a huge demand to play for Manchester United and a lot of players can't deal with it.

"People go to United in numbers and if the level of performance isn't correct then they will let their feelings be known."

This season is the third of relative under-achievement at Old Trafford since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager.

Adding to the pressure could be the number of former United players, from the glory years under Ferguson, who are now commenting on the current side as media pundits.

Hughes, speaking at a press conference, said: "People at Man United know that they're in a period of transition since Sir Alex left, and that they're on a different cycle now.

"A lot of key players that were there for many years are still around the place but obviously not on the field of play, so that's having an impact as well.

"A lot of things are changing and these periods of success are a cycle, and when it's closed somebody else starts a cycle. United might have to wait to get back to the level they were at before."

Press Association

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