Louis van Gaal admits Manchester United must bounce back immediately from defeat at Bournemouth if they are to retain any hope of challenging for the Premier League title.
The 2-1 loss on Saturday left Van Gaal’s side in fourth place and without a win in their last five matches, including the defeat in Wolfsburg that ended their interest in the Champions League.
Their next fixture sees Norwich City visit Old Trafford followed by a trip to Stoke City and a home meeting with Chelsea before the end of December.
And Van Gaal — who has come under growing pressure this season — concedes his side must win all three of those games to remain among the leading group going into the new year.
“I think we are now maybe fifth or still fourth, I think that we have the selection to do that (challenge for the title), but we are now in a very difficult position,” said the Dutchman.
“Because of the injuries, we have to play with a lot of youngsters, but I have to say that the youngsters have played well, especially Cameron Borthwick-Jackson.
“But we have to make a revival this week, and that’s always very difficult because you have lost two in a row, that doesn’t happen often for Manchester United.
“Of course I’m concerned because we have lost two matches in a row, and that is not a usual thing, so we have to stick together and prepare our match against Norwich.
Of course it’s disappointing if you lose two matches in a row in an important week, so now we have to stay there in a position to keep fighting. But still we are in a position, but we have to win. We have now to win three matches in a row for example, to be there still after Christmas.
“And you have to win, because otherwise it is always more difficult.
“It is already this week very difficult because my players are very disappointed. They have done everything, but they have lost.
“And then we shall do our job, but it is more difficult to prepare a game against Norwich when you have lost twice in a row.”
He added: “Of course it’s disappointing if you lose two matches in a row in an important week, so now we have to stay there in a position to keep fighting.
“But still we are in a position, but we have to win.
“We have now to win three matches in a row for example, to be there still after Christmas.”
Junior Stanislas put Bournemouth ahead in the second minute and Joshua King secure the win early in the second half after Marouane Fellaini had equalised in the 24th minute.
Left-back Borthwick-Jackson, 18, was handed a first Premier League start in an inexperienced back-four that highlighted the spate of injuries that have affected Van Gaal’s plans.
And the loss of forward Jesse Lingard midway through the first half only added to the manager’s concerns.
Bournemouth’s victory came on the back of last week’s win at Chelsea and manager Eddie Howe admitted the club’s season has been transformed.
“We’ve looked at the last few games as turning points, I think the Everton game, Swansea game for a start,” said Howe.
“We’d had a run of defeats, so to get points on the board was important.
“The Everton comeback, obviously Chelsea and Manchester United are wins we’ve got, and we’re looking at this run as hopefully the start of something for us.
“Certainly it feels like we’re in a good moment, we go to West Brom now and we’ve got to carry the form on.”
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