Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal, has revealed that he had the support of the club as his team prepare to face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Boxing Day.
United have fallen out of the top four in the Barclays Premier League as well as exiting the UEFA Champions League in a run where they have won just three times in 13 matches.
Without a victory in any of their last six matches in all competitions, it is United’s worst winless run in a single season since December 1998, the campaign in which they went on to win an historic treble.
“I held meetings with the players with my members of staff, I hold a Christmas lunch, I did a speech and I feel the warmth and support of everybody in Carrington,” Van Gaal said Prior in a press conference he cut short after three questions. “But I didn’t feel that in the media.
“Of course I can imagine that you can write about that subject [our bad results] but you have to stick to the facts.
“Four weeks ago we were first in the Premier League and in about four weeks we could be back in that position.
“I only say now I am focused on Stoke City and that I help my players.”
Van Gaal will hope United can continue their fine record in Boxing Day fixtures, having won 18 and drawn one of their last 19 matches played on 26 December.
Stoke’s progress has slowed in recent weeks as they followed a run of five victories from seven league matches by only winning one of their last four, although that solitary triumph was a home victory over Manchester City.
Mark Hughes’ men have slipped to 11th, but are only six points adrift of United in fifth. Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic is the highest league goal scorer from either of the two teams with five and is optimistic about his side’s chances ahead of United’s visit.
“It is a huge game,” the forward told the Stoke Sentinel. “They come to us and know it is going to be a difficult game in Stoke and we know they are a good side.
“Manchester United is always a top game and we will try and win this game. If we perform like the last week [against West Ham and Crystal Palace], but score the goals, then I think we can take the three points.”
Bastian Schweinsteiger is suspended, while United are also without Matteo Darmian and Jesse Lingard (both hamstring), although Van Gaal hopes the Italian will be back to face Chelsea on 28 December.
Stoke are still without Geoff Cameron (hamstring), Peter Crouch (groin) and Stephen Ireland (hamstring).