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Stoke City 2-0 Manchester United: Potters leave Van Gaal on the brink

Merry Christmas!

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Louis van Gaal's position as Manchester United manager may have become officially untenable away at the Britannia Stadium on Boxing Day, as he watched his side succumb to a 2-0 at Stoke City. It means United's winless run has now been stretched to seven games; they're now below Crystal Palace in the table, and by the end of the day they could be surpassed by Watford.

Stoke started the game as much the better side, having the confidence to push up the field and take the game to their visitors. For once it was United who had to sit back and soak up pressure, though their complete inability to quickly and coherently transition from defence to attack was a damning indictment of Van Gaal's coaching.

Instead it was only a matter of time before the Potters took advantage of United's flimsiness, and they did so after 19 minutes. A dogged Glen Johnson charged down a terrible Memphis Depay header in the penalty area, before squaring for Bojan to score. A defensive aberration, but a deserved lead.

Within seven minutes Stoke had doubled their advantage, this time more the result of sublime individual skill than a defensive disaster. The in-form Marko Arnautović found space outside the area to smash a venomous effort beyond David de Gea and inside the far post, much to the delight of the Britannia's home crowd.

From there United improved, and by the time the second half came around, they had started to dominate possession. But Stoke seemed more than content to sit back and soak up pressure, and the Reds only created one clear-cut chance in the entire half. Rather typically, Marouane Fellaini fired straight at Jack Butland from point-blank range.

The result was another poor performance and another defeat: perhaps the only question that now remains is whether José Mourinho will be arriving before or after the Chelsea match on Monday.