• Premier League

Van Gaal: I will drop under-performing players

ESPN staff
February 8, 2015
Can West Ham end United's unbeaten run?

Louis van Gaal has told his Manchester United players he is not afraid to make big decisions if they are not performing the required standard.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash against West Ham, Van Gaal issued his team a warning, saying that every player at Old Trafford is competing for their spot in the squad.

"All of them are playing for their future and all of them are aware of that," he said. "They know they have to perform. Not just in the matches, but also on the training pitch.

"It always has to be 100 percent. Maybe a lot of players were not aware of that - but now they know.

"It is not easy for me [to make tough decisions] because I know that most of my players are trying to do their utmost best.

"When you see that as a manager, then it is very hard to say to someone, 'You have to go.'"

United defender Chris Smalling backed his manager's calls, saying that competition for places was getting exceedingly high.

"It is a real battle just to get in the team at the moment because of the amount of players we have available now," Smalling said. "You are always having to prove yourself and, if you miss a few games like I did, it can be tough to get back in.

"There's always been a lot of competition here, but we are working under a manager who takes the training sessions as seriously as he does the actual matches.

"He has his talk to us after each training session, telling us what he expects and what he thought of the last session. Each day you need to test yourself because he is always watching. And when you get the chance of being in the team, you have to take it.

"It's tough, but it is that competition for places that is keeping us all going."

Smalling has only made 12 appearances out of a possible 23 this team for United underneath Van Gaal, but says he's not fazed by the competition for his spot in the squad, nor from potential United recruits like Dortmund captain Mats Hummels or PSG starlet Marquinhos.

Smalling added: "I'm just focused on the competition that is here. There are already enough centre-backs to compete with, so I will hopefully give the manager something to think about and leave him with the option where he can't leave me out.

"When Rio [Ferdinand] and Vida [Nemanja Vidic] left I saw it as an opportunity to be the vocal leader at the back.

"I do feel I've done that. Like Jonny Evans and Phil Jones, I can't consider myself to be a young player anymore because the manager has put a lot of faith in lads who are even younger this season."

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