LONDON • Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has warned his players a repeat of their display against Arsenal will be unacceptable if they want to be Premier League title challengers.
United suffered a 3-0 defeat by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last time out as they were blown away in the first 20 minutes of the game by two goals from Alexis Sanchez and one from Mesut Oezil.
The Red Devils return to action after the international break today with a clash against Everton at Goodison Park.
Van Gaal admitted it has been a difficult fortnight for him following such a disappointing result and has demanded his men start acting like a team near the top of the table.
"It has been an awful two weeks," said the Dutchman. "Before the last international break in September, we lost against Swansea; these are awful weeks. You are constantly thinking about how it happened.
You are constantly thinking about how it happened. We are always evaluating ourselves and we cannot accept that.'
LOUIS VAN GAAL, United manager on dealing with losses
"We are always evaluating ourselves and we cannot accept that. Not I cannot accept it, we cannot. Not only my members of staff but also the players cannot accept it.
"We cannot accept it from each other. We want to be the champion, then you have to behave like a champion. Also to improve yourself, to be, in the future, the champion. You have to improve every time."
Under their new manager, they have been adjusting to changes for a while but they have a settled starting XI now.
ROBERTO MARTINEZ, Everton boss on United's threat
United will try to improve on a poor recent record against the Toffees. They have lost their past three matches at Goodison Park.
But Everton manager Roberto Martinez played down the significance of past results.
For similar reasons, the Spaniard is not paying too much attention to United's last loss, describing the rout by Arsenal as "a hiccup".
"United now seem to have an understanding of what their manager wants, the concept is clear," Martinez said. "Under their new manager, they have been adjusting to changes for a while but they have a settled starting XI now, and though the first half hour against Arsenal might have been a bit of a hiccup, a squad of their quality can compete for anything in this league."
While there are some obvious differences in revenue and spending power between the clubs, the managers have more in common than might be imagined.
Martinez tried to set up a loan move for Anthony Martial, then at Monaco, in January last year.
But the Ligue One side turned Everton down and they turned to Lacina Traore instead .
Apart from an admiration for technical players and ball retention, it turns out Martinez also shares van Gaal's enthusiasm for Wayne Rooney as the focal point of the side.
The United captain, who has one league goal this season, missed both of England's games over the international break but is fit to face his former club.
"I think United are a stronger team when he is in the side, even if he is not getting among the goals," Martinez said.
"When you watch Rooney play, you realise he contributes a lot more than goal-scoring, that is only part of his game. He is a leader on the pitch, he can see a pass and he can find space. I completely understand why Louis van Gaal would want to make him captain.
"He is an outstanding footballer."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN