No escape route for van Gaal: Hughes

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Stoke City boss Mark Hughes says Louis van Gaal cannot 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 teetering 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 English Premier League.

As Chelsea showed by sacking Jose Mourinho last week, just seven months after the Blues won the English title, managers cannot hope past achievements will save them from the axe.

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

"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, (but) you have to win football matches," Hughes told reporters on Tuesday.

"He has been in the game a long, long time and he knows better than most if the results (are disappointing) and (the) 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.

However, Hughes denied that it is the perfect time to face his old club.

"I have been asked whether this is a good time to play them but I am always wary of that because these type of clubs more often than not bounce back emphatically," said Hughes, who won the Premier League twice and the FA Cup three times in his two spells at United.

"We are certainly taking nothing for granted because we are fully aware as to how difficult a challenge they will pose to us on Boxing Day."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'No escape route for van Gaal: Hughes'. Print Edition | Subscribe