Pressure intensifies on Van Gaal after another defeat

Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by the struggling Norwich City on Saturday.

FILE: Manchester United's new manager Louis van Gaal giving his players instructions. Picture:

LONDON - Bookmakers were busy slashing the odds on Louis van Gaal to be replaced in the Manchester United hotseat by Jose Mourinho on Saturday after a 2-1 home defeat to struggling Norwich City in the Premier League.

That may be a knee-jerk reaction, but after going six games without a victory in all competitions and suffering a third defeat in a row, the spotlight is intensifying on Dutchman Van Gaal.

"We know we have to beat Norwich. We know that it is not good enough for us, the players know that, I know that, the board knows that and the fans know that," former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Van Gaal told Sky Sports.

Asked if he would be given time to turn around United's season, he added: "It's not up to me I think to answer that question but we shall see.

"We've lost three matches in a row. We can't accept that and that's why I have to repeat, we have to stick together and believe in ourselves."

A week after tumbling out of the Champions League following a defeat to VfL Wolfsburg and losing to modest Bournemouth in the league, United were booed off at halftime and fulltime as Norwich won at Old Trafford for the first time since 1989.

Cameron Jerome put Norwich in front before halftime and when Alex Tettey made it 2-0 the atmosphere inside Old Trafford was mutinous. Anthony Martial did reply for United but Chris Smalling wasted a great chance to equalise meaning Van Gaal's side slipped out of the top four.

Mourinho, sacked by champions Chelsea on Thursday, issued a statement through his agent on Saturday saying he will not be taking a break from the game.

One leading bookmaker had the Portuguese at 8-15 favourite to replace Van Gaal who is 1-5 favourite to become the sixth Premier League boss to lose his job so far this season.

Van Gaal, who took United back into the Champions League this season after a fourth-placed Premier League finish in his first campaign in charge, has been criticised for his style of play by fans used to the kind of swashbuckling football served up for the past two decades.

One statistic stands out like a sore thumb - United have managed only seven shots on target in their last four Premier League home games.

Even the return from an ankle injury of striker Wayne Rooney for his 500th competitive appearance for the club failed to lift the gloom that has descended on the 20-times English champions.

Their next game is a tough-looking fixture at Stoke City on Boxing Day, before they host Chelsea two days later.