The pressure is on Louis van Gaal as Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford in an FA Cup quarter-final.
With United slumping to a 2-0 defeat in midweek, against bitter rivals Liverpool, this match comes with added pressure as the FA Cup is now United’s only realistic chance of silverware.
United’s season could well and truly be over should they fail to come through this tie, as it now looks unlikely they will overturn the two-goal deficit against Liverpool, bar a magical European night at Old Trafford next Thursday.
Following that they are tasked with going to the Etihad stadium to face Manchester City in a match they will not be expected to win, and could leave themselves with a gap from the top four too big to make up.
Van Gaal remains positive
In van Gaal’s first test of a defining week, he must guide United past a very good West Ham United side, who sit two points in front of the red devils in the Premier League.
Ahead of the match, van Gaal is optimistic about the situation at Old Trafford, he said: “There is of course much pressure on us now, but it is also possible (that we win) against West Ham.
“We are still in three competitions, so we need to fight. We still have a chance to win something and you have to believe that.”
United's questionable form
Despite an upturn in form which saw United win four consecutive games, they have resorted to their early season displays which saw them produce uninspiring and somewhat confusing performances, the latest at West Bromwich Albion, though admittedly with ten men for the majority of the match.
Their dip in form then took a new low against Liverpool, in a match where they failed to find motivation for such a huge game.
The poor results mean manager van Gaal is under intense pressure once again, with many firing questions over the Dutchman’s future at Old Trafford.
The two sides last met in December in a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford as United struggled to break down a resilient West Ham side, who can boast some excellent away victories this season.
The Hammers haven’t beaten United since their remarkable 4-0 win in the League Cup back in 2010. Following that the reds have recorded six wins and four draws against the East London outfit.
United will be without Juan Mata, after he was sent off in United’s last domestic match with West Brom. Though Jesse Lingard is now available after sitting out the defeat against Liverpool through suspension.
Antonio Valencia stepped up his return from injury after featuring for the United U21’s against Liverpool on Friday night, and could feature at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young remain the red devils long-term absentees.
The visitors welcome back Enner Valencia, Victor Moses and Joey O’Brien as they have recovered from injuries, though James Tomkins and James Collins are unavailable for Slaven Bilic’s side.