Desperate Van demands more from United
Time running out for under-fire Reds boss
Under-fire Louis van Gaal has demanded his Manchester United side show professionalism to pull themselves out of their current malaise.
The Dutchman admits he must also look at himself after his side's poor run continued with a dispiriting 2-1 loss to Norwich - the side's third successive defeat in all competitions - at Old Trafford on Saturday.
United were booed off the field after a result which not only left Van Gaal facing further criticism but possibly fighting for his job, with Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola now both in the market for new jobs.
Mourinho left Chelsea on Thursday after Roman Abramovich finally felt compelled to act after a disastrous start to their title defence and has indicated a desire to get straight back into management. Guardiola will be available in the summer too after Bayern Munich confirmed on Sunday that he would leave his job with them at the end of the season.
Van Gaal's slow, possession-based game-plan has proved unpopular with fans and with results now taking a downturn - United have also not won in six games - the pressure is increasing.
A St Stephen's Day trip to Stoke looks another awkward fixture for United and their veteran manager, with Chelsea then coming to Old Trafford on December 28.
Asked what needed to happen for players to recover their draining confidence, Van Gaal said: "To show your professional attitude - that is the only way you can get that back.
"We had done that this week and that is the only way, but now we have to evaluate what we have done here and how we have prepared for this match.
"We shall evaluate what we have done as a staff, and as a team, to make it better against Stoke City.
"And then we have to play within two days against Chelsea. We have to show our professional attitude to improve and to come back into our confidence zone."
The defeat left United fifth in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Phil Jones claims the mood at United is not as bad as it was at the lowest point of David Moyes' short reign as manager.
A gloom has descended at Old Trafford after a dismal run of results and heavy criticism of the team's performances and manager Van Gaal.
Van Gaal is under heavy pressure and fans have been making their frustration clear, but Jones claims the atmosphere was worse during Moyes' ill-fated season in charge two years ago.
The defender said: "I wouldn't say it's the lowest moment. I think it became pretty glum, if you like, under David Moyes and it was unfortunate. We weren't playing well at the time.
"There's no point saying we've played some good football this season because ultimately we've lost three games in a row - but we have in patches. We need to stick together, there's nothing else you can do."
But Jones insists the players are backing the Dutchman to turn the situation around and are also determined to pull their own weight.
The 23-year-old said: "The manager is doing all he can and is doing a terrific job. It's not even questionable in the dressing room. The lads are absolutely fully focused on performing well for the manager, the fans, ourselves week-in, week-out. The players in there aren't hiding behind anyone. We know full well we have to take responsibility.
"There's no other way. The manager picks the team and the team has got to go out and do its best."