Stoke City manager Mark Hughes expects his players to meet a Manchester United side desperate to end their recent dreary form at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
Louis van Gaal’s position has come under scrutiny at Old Trafford after three successive defeats and a run of six games without a victory.
Jose Mourinho’s departure from Chelsea and Pep Guardiola’s impending exit at Bayern Munich have fuelled speculation surrounding Van Gaal’s position as United prepare to visit the Potteries this weekend.
And former United striker Hughes told reporters: “They are a huge club and they have a very good squad of players there.
“I have been asked whether this is a good time to play them but I am always wary of that because these sort of clubs more often than not bounce back emphatically.
“The players there are representing a global brand and the players have a responsibility to produce the goods more often than not, so they will be desperate to get back on track at the weekend.
“Manchester United will know themselves that they are in a period of transition and are in a different cycle now.
“Things are changing and sometimes things can take a while before you become successful again. 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.
“I am looking forward to the game though, it is a great fixture for Boxing Day.”
Hughes expects to be without Geoff Cameron (hamstring) for the meetings with Manchester United and Everton over the next few days, with Peter Crouch (hamstring) and Stephen Ireland (knock) also still out.