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Stoke a must-win game for United – Van Gaal

Manchester United’s meeting with Stoke City on Saturday is a must-win game according to Louis van Gaal, as questions linger over his future at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal stormed out of his news conference on Wednesday after days of intense speculation that suggested he could be sacked as United manager, with some reports naming Jose Mourinho as a possible replacement.

With United winless in six matches and coming off the back of three straight defeats in all competitions, the Dutchman said only a win would suffice this weekend.

Asked by MUTV whether Saturday was a must-win game, he said: “Yes, I think so because you lose three times in a row then you need a win.

“We have focused ourselves to do that but Stoke have won also against Manchester City and [the Britannia Stadium is] a special ground.

“It’s not easy with a lot of circumstances not suitable to playing always good football. We have analysed Stoke and seen that the ball is often flowing in the wind.

“You have to cope with every circumstance and that’s why we prepare for that game and show the players what it’s like.

“The key is always communication, talk with each other. Evaluation of the match and how we prepare.

“The focus is on the next match against Stoke City and we have to focus on that and win that match of course.”

Van Gaal left reporters stunned at Carrington as he demanded an apology from the media before stating that he had the backing of the club’s hierarchy and leaving after less than five minutes.

But a day later the Dutchman offered an update on the club’s injury situation, with full-back Matteo Darmian potentially making his return against Chelsea on Monday.

“It is more or less the same, no difference but [Phil] Jones has played 90 minutes and had no reaction,” he added.

“I think Darmian shall come next week and may be ready against Chelsea. But of course we have injuries that take a long time like [Luke] Shaw, [Antonio] Valencia and [Marcos] Rojo.”

Thu 24 Dec, 2015
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