Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has called on his players to show more hunger or risk being sold by the club.
The Red Devils ended their six-year trophy drought with victory in the Carabao Cup at the end of February and though they have advanced to the latter stages of the FA Cup and UEFA Europa League, they have failed to win or score in three Premier League games since.
United were humiliated 7-0 by rivals Liverpool at Anfield before drawing 0-0 at home to 20th-placed Southampton and being outclassed in a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle on Sunday.
Ahead of their meeting with Brentford on Wednesday evening, Ten Hag was asked whether some United players would ever show the requisite desire and hunger to win.
“When they can’t get this, then they are in the wrong place,” he replied.
“I agree, we return to old [bad] habits but also that I know there are fluctuations, and because persons are not robots. But we have to act as robots, we have to act as machines, we have to expect and can expect the demand of our players that they match the standards. So when we are not doing [well] we are disappointed because that is our job.
“So Sunday we return to bad habits and you get hammered and they know this, the players know this. So they talked with each other about it because they are aware this is not the standard for a Manchester United team.
“We have shown in so many games we did [act like a machine]. It was tough; very strong belief, very strong confidence and very strong passion and togetherness we had, we have shown it in many games and in big games, we have shown we can win the games.
“But you have to do it every time because that is the demand on a top player and that is the expectation and the demands Manchester United and the fans of Manchester United have for our team and players, so they have to do it.
“Let’s be fair, so I know how football is. We’re talking in the emotion after one defeat but we are in the right position and this squad is doing that and you can talk about deficits but every squad has deficits.
“But I trust my players to give good performances and get the best results. They have shown it so many times: Arsenal home, Liverpool home, City home, but also Barcelona twice. So they can do it, so don’t talk about what is coming after, after strong and severe decisions. So I trust my players and they deserve it.
“We are in the right position. But now, at the start of the season, we had a really bad start. When you go to Newcastle and, as a team, you deliver this, it is far below the standards and far below the performance we can expect.”
The games keep on coming for Ten Hag and his Manchester United players, with seven games to be crammed in before the end of April.
Everton visit Old Trafford on Saturday in a game the Red Devils willl expect to win, before bogey team Sevilla rock up for the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final.
A second outing against the Spaniards follows alongside games against Nottingham Forest, Brighton, in the FA Cup semi-final, Tottenham and Aston Villa.