Win or perish: Stoke manager Mark Hughes has a stark message for Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal
Stoke City boss Mark Hughes says Louis van Gaal can’t rely on his reputation to save him from the sack if Manchester United fail to get back on track quickly.
United boss Van Gaal is on the brink of losing his job after a dismal run of six matches without a win cost the Old Trafford club their place in the Champions League and their top-four spot in the Premier League.
As Chelsea showed by sacking Jose Mourinho last week, just seven months after the Blues won the English title, managers can’t hope past achievements will save them from the axe.
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.
“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,” Hughes said on Tuesday.
“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 the team were booed off after Saturday’s dismal 2-1 defeat against lowly Norwich City as fans showed their frustration at Van Gaal’s negative tactics.
Hughes is well aware of the expectations United supporters have and he said: “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 Alex Ferguson as manager.
But Hughes, who won the Premier League twice and the FA Cup three times in his two spells at United, suggested there is no guarantee the team will recapture their former glories soon.
“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,” he said.
“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.”