LONDON (Reuters) – Louis van Gaal’s position in the Old Trafford hot seat looked even more precarious as Stoke City swept Manchester United aside in a comfortable 2-0 victory to kickstart a busy day of Premier League holiday action on Saturday.
Goals from Stoke forwards Bojan Krkic and Marko Arnautovic punished United for a dreadful start at a blustery Britannia Stadium and although the visitors improved in the second half they could not repair the damage.
Dutchman Van Gaal has overseen a seven-match winless run in which United have been eliminated from the Champions League and fallen out of the Premier League’s top four.
Having stormed angrily out of his pre-match news conference on Wednesday, Van Gaal will now face further questions about his future in charge of England’s record 20-times league champions.
United, who slipped down to sixth in the table, face Chelsea at home on Monday.
Stoke’s opener after 19 minutes was an embarrassing moment for Dutch winger Memphis Depay, one of numerous expensive signings made by Van Gaal.
Attempting to knock the ball back to his goalkeeper David de Gea with a diving header, Memphis only succeeded in gifting the ball to Glen Johnson who crossed for Bojan to stab home.
United were stunned six minutes later when Bojan’s free kick was blocked and Arnautovic thundered a shot past De Gea.
England striker Wayne Rooney, left on the bench by Van Gaal in the first half, spiced up United’s attack after the break but Marouane Fellaini wasted their best chance when he shot straight at Stoke keeper Jack Butland from close range.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)