Louis van Gaal has urged his Manchester United players to be ‘daring’ when they take on Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday.
The two Premier League heavyweights will go toe to toe in the North-West with both desperately in need of three points for differing reasons.
Chelsea’s Boxing Day draw with Watford left them just two points above the relegation zone, while United have not tasted since their 2-1 win over the Hornets in November.
Chelsea’s hierarchy lost their confidence in Jose Mourinho following the Blues’ dismal form under the Portuguese manager, and now United’s board are considering van Gaal’s future after the club lost four games in a row in a season for the first time since 1961.
United’s defeat to Stoke City on Boxing Day saw them slip to sixth place, but the lack of fight under the Dutchman will cause most concern for United’s hierarchy.
Van Gaal dropped captain Wayne Rooney from the starting line-up in the Potteries, but could recall him after he sparked an improvement in United’s play after replacing Memphis Depay.
Midfield general Bastian Schweinsteiger is available after returning from suspension, while Matteo Darmian could be in the frame after recovering from a hamstring problem.
Whichever team takes to the field in the 5.30pm kick-off, van Gaal wants them to believe in the philosophy he has implemented since taking the reins at Old Trafford.
United have gone seven games without a win in all competitions and TEAMtalk’s Ian Watson feels van Gaal’s time at the club may be up.
But the manager wants them to be ‘confident’ when they take on the Londoners, telling MUTV: “You can say we can quickly get over this defeat by playing against Chelsea but in the time in between, you have to recover because the players have given everything.
“Then you have to manage that you are very confident to start the Chelsea game, and that you dare to play football – our football.
“It is very difficult to do that in just two days but we shall try.”