Man Utd slump to 2-1 defeat against Norwich
Canaries last won at Old Trafford in 1989
Van Gaal urges team to "stick together"
Hiddink watches Chelsea win
In season’s gone by, the visit of Norwich City to Old Trafford would have had many Manchester United supporters mentally chalking off “home win” in their heads long before kick off.
But these are strange days in the English Premier League and worrying times for United boss, Louis Van Gaal.
Boos rang out around the “Theatre of Dreams” on Saturday after United slumped to a 2-1 defeat against Norwich City — a week after going down to another newly-promoted side, Bournemouth by the same scoreline.
The three points secured by Alex Neil’s side will boost the East Anglian side as much as it will deflate United supporters.
The visitors took the lead seven minutes before the break courtesy of Cameron Jerome who then played provider after halftime as Norwich doubled their lead.
After breaking clear in the 54th minute, Jerome fed the ball through to Alex Tetley who squeezed the ball past David de Gea.
United enjoyed the lion’s share of possession throughout the match — 70% to Norwich’s 30% — and pulled a goal back with a third of the game to go when Anthony Martial’s left-foot shot found the top left hand corner in the 66th minute.
As the clock ticked down, United tried in vain to equalize but not even Wayne Rooney – who was celebrating his 500th game for Utd – could find the net.
A frantic four minutes of injury time came to nothing as the Norwich defense held firm to secure only their second win in 11 league matches and the first at Old Trafford since 1989.
After the game, Van Gaal urged his players to “stick together” and called for his players to reflect on the situation.
“You have to stick together to come out of this period,” Van Gaal told Sky Sports.
“Of course you are evaluating yourself, but the players have to evaluate themselves also. I’m convinced of that.
“We shall come back. But OK, we have to work very hard. You can see what (a lack of) confidence is doing to my team.”
Out of the UEFA Champions League and now out of the top four — albeit on goal difference — Van Gaal’s side slip to fifth after picking up two league points from a possible 12 in the last four games.
The English Premier League’s busy festive period awaits a side in desperate need of some Christmas cheer.
Foxes top at Christmas
Elsewhere, Leicester City stay at the top of the league after another impressive win.
The 3-2 victory against Everton at Goodison Park ensures Claudio Ranieri’s side will be top of the tree at Christmas with 38 points — a gift that not even the most optimistic Foxes fans could have predicted they would receive at the start of the season.
Their nearest rivals, Manchester City and Arsenal face each other at the Emirates on Monday night.
READ: Why Leicester City is the Premier League’s best
Chelsea’s first match in the post-Mourinho era got off to a winning start as the west London club ran out 3-1 winners against Sunderland at Stamford Bridge.
Guus Hiddink, who was confirmed as interim manager earlier in the day, was on hand to watch the match from the stands.
Home fans showed their support for Mourinho, who was sacked by club owner Roman Abramovich on Thursday, by unfurling a banner that read: “Jose Mourinho Simply The Best.”
In a statement issued on his behalf earlier on Saturday, the Portuguese expressed his gratitude to the Blues fans who welcomed him back to the club in 2014.
“Mourinho is pleased that he returned to Chelsea Football Club because he was able to give the fans another Premier League title, which they had not won for many years,” said a statement from his co-representatives at CAA Sports and Polaris Sports.
“He is immensely proud of his eight trophies at Chelsea and thanks the fans for all their support throughout his two spells at the club.”
The 52-year-old was insistent that he wouldn’t be taking a break from football prompting speculation as to where he might go next.
“He will not be taking a sabbatical, he isn’t tired, he doesn’t need it, he is very positive and is already looking forward.”
The win lifts Chelsea to 15th in the table while Tottenham move up to fourth after a 2-0 win at Southampton. Crystal Palace remain in sixth place after beating Stoke City 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium.
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Guardiola keeps Bayern fans waiting
Bayern Munich will return from their winter break in January with an eight-point lead at the top of Germany’s Bundesliga.
A solitary goal – a first-half penalty from Thomas Muller — was enough to give the reigning champions a 1-0 win over Hanover while second-placed Borussia Dortmund conceded two late goals to lose 2-1 at Cologne.
Bayern fans will have to wait until Sunday to learn about the future of manager Pep Guardiola whose contract ends in the summer.
The Spaniard was expected to make an announcement about his future after Saturday’s match but told reporters: “Tomorrow, tomorrow.”
In the other matches played Saturday, Eintracht Frankfurt beat Werder Bremen 2-1 while Augsburg earned a 1-0 at Hamburger SV. Bayer Leverkusen were also 1-0 winners at Ingolstadt.