Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal defends methods, philosophy and results
Louis van Gaal has defended his methods, philosophy and results as Manchester United prepare for a week that could determine the manager's future.
It seemed the Reds had turned the corner and belatedly found some consistency, with a four-match winning run complemented by home-grown teenager Marcus Rashford's remarkable emergence.
The feel-good factor at Old Trafford has proved short-lived, though, with United's Champions League hopes seriously dented by back-to-back losses.
Sunday's uninspiring 1-0 defeat at West Brom diminished their top-four hopes and a tepid display at Anfield saw the Reds' chances of qualifying through the Europa League narrow on Thursday.
Turning around the 2-0 last-16 loss is a big ask when Liverpool arrive for the second leg - a match bookended by a Premier League trip to rivals Manchester City and, firstly, an FA Cup quarter-final at home to West Ham.
Those matches could go a long way to determining under-fire Van Gaal's future, even if the Dutchman did not want to talk about it ahead of Sunday's match.
"I don't want to discuss that with you because you are not part of the people who will determine," Van Gaal said.
"This (defeat to Liverpool) of course gives us much more pressure.
"We are in three competitions and after the defeat in Midjytlland you have sacked me already and then we are standing up, and then we are in the next round and it is possible also against Liverpool.
"We have to play that match for the second time and then at home and then we create that atmosphere and then maybe we score some goals. It shall be very difficult, I know that, but it is possible.
"It is not impossible. Against West Ham United, it is also possible. At Old Trafford, we (would) normally win our games."
Van Gaal bristled when asked how many times United had played the way he wanted - "you are now very negative" - and rejected the accusation that United had fallen short in his time at the helm.
"I think it is working," he said. "The style is also working.
"It is not giving the best results. It is not good enough when you think you have to be a champion. Or win the Euro League or the FA Cup.
"It is still possible, but when you see this game (against Liverpool), you can say what you are saying but when you analyse what we have done this season and the other season, then you cannot say that.
"I cannot change your mind because you are thinking (it already) otherwise you don't put the question to me."
Juan Mata will miss the quarter-final through suspension.
Jesse Lingard returns to the squad having served a ban in the clash with Liverpool, while Adnan Januzaj and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are available having been ineligible for Thursday's match.
Wayne Rooney (knee), Luke Shaw (leg), Ashley Young (groin/pelvis) and Will Keane (groin) remain absent, but Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are nearing a return.
Meanwhile, Slaven Bilic claims Michail Antonio is a shining example of the gems available in the lower leagues.
The 25-year-old was a surprise B#7million deadline-day arrival at West Ham, having finally reached the top flight via Reading, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest.
Antonio had to bide his time to make an impact at Upton Park with just one brief substitute appearance in his first three months at the club.
But a spate of injuries gave the winger his chance and he has grabbed it with both hands, scoring seven goals and becoming one of West Ham's key figures in their rise to fifth in the Premier League.
Antonio could even cap a dream first season at the club with a Wembley appearance if they can get past United at Old Trafford.
And Bilic believes there are plenty more players capable of following the likes of Antonio and Leicester's Jamie Vardy up the football pyramid.
"There are, definitely, it's not only him," said the Hammers boss. "There are a few players. We also have Sam Byram who came few months ago and is doing great.
"Antonio is the biggest example for all the guys playing in lower divisions. Not to mention Jamie Vardy. There are definitely some really good players especially if you surround them with more quality players, like Antonio is.
"He benefits from that and we benefit from that situation. And he deserves it."
Enner Valencia, Victor Moses and Joey O'Brien are available for the tie.
Valencia has recovered from a sprained ankle, Moses is fit after a quad injury and O'Brien has shaken off hamstring trouble.
Winston Reid is close to returning after a hamstring problem but the Old Trafford clash is likely to come too soon, while fellow defenders James Tomkins (calf) and James Collins (hamstring) are still injured and Sam Byram is cup-tied.