London: Manchester United's under-performing players approach tonight's home game with Chelsea not knowing whether besieged manager Louis van Gaal will still be in the dug-out when they take to the field.

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal

United's 2-0 defeat at Stoke City on Saturday was their fourth loss in succession — the club's worst run within a season since 1961 — and reduced Van Gaal to a dead man walking in the eyes of the British media. The Dutchman admitted afterwards that he could not be certain of the United board's support and raised the prospect that he could choose to leave Old Trafford.

"I have said already in former press conferences that it is not always that the club has to fire or sack me. Sometimes I do it by myself. I am the one who wants to speak first with the board of Manchester United, with my members of staff, with my players and not always you (the media)," he said.

Chelsea dispensed with their own manager last week, Jose Mourinho paying the price for a calamitous start to the season, and the Portuguese is the favourite to take over at United if Van Gaal departs.

Chelsea without Costa
Meanwhile, Chelsea will be without Diego Costa out due to bookings and Loic Remy is expected to deputise. "We will go to Old Trafford. It will be difficult, but I hope this team will show, in every game, the ambition like they showed against Watford. We are going there for the win," said interim Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink said.