Chris Smalling says it is “silly” to suggest Manchester United’s players are not trying their hardest for under-pressure manager Louis van Gaal.
Although United put on an improved display in their 0-0 draw against Chelsea on Monday night, they are five points adrift of fourth place with half the season to go.
But there is no sign that United are ready to wield the axe just yet, while Van Gaal said following the Chelsea match that he had no plans to quit.
The Dutchman revealed he had already begun discussions with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward about January transfer targets, and Smalling acknowledges that it is the players whose futures are most in danger after they embarked on their worst run in 26 years.
“To say we’re not playing for the manager is silly,” the United centre-back said.
“If anything we are all playing for our own futures as well, so there’s not a case of no one not playing for the manager.
“And every week we want to go out there and show everyone what a good team we are.
“No matter what, whether it is good or bad, this club is always in the spotlight, and we’ve rolled our sleeves up, worked hard on the training field and had to make sure that we regrouped, especially after that loss against Stoke, so against Chelsea we stood up and showed that we were the better team, albeit we didn’t get the win.”
No change in Van Gaal
Van Gaal is such a confident character that hearing him speak about the possibility of resigning after the 2-0 defeat at Stoke City on Boxing Day came as something of a surprise.
The former Ajax and Barcelona manager sounded as if he had accepted the idea that he would leave the club.
But Smalling insists there has been no change in his manager’s demeanour over the last few troubling days.
“No, he has been himself from day one that we met him to how he is now,” he said.
“He is not going to change and that is why he has had a lot of success throughout the years. I can’t ever see him changing because he’s got a track record.”
Meanwhile, Smalling hopes Monday’s encouraging performance will help United end their eight-match winless sequence when they host Swansea City on Saturday.
“We need that win because we want to stick at the top end of the table and, when you dominate games like the one against Chelsea, you need to win them, but we will take the positives from this and really make sure that next week we get the win,” the 26-year-old said.
“Now hopefully this will give us that little boost that we can play well and kick on.”