LONDON - With their Premier League title defence in tatters, Manchester United approach the second leg of their League Cup semi-final against Sunderland on Thursday conscious that it could define their domestic season.
Sunday's 3-1 loss at Chelsea left David Moyes' side 14 points off the pace in the league and having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Swansea City, United need success in the League Cup like never before.
The Red Devils trail Sunderland 2-1 from the first leg and defeat at Old Trafford will crank up the pressure on Moyes, who took over from Alex Ferguson at the start of the season.
The League Cup is a competition United occasionally treated with disdain under Ferguson, but the new manager knows that he cannot afford to pick and choose when the club's fans are in the doldrums.
"We will try and do everything we can to get through," Moyes told MUTV.
"I want to give the supporters something to cheer about. There has not been an awful lot. I am fully aware of that."
Including that result at the Stadium of Light on January 7, United have lost four of their five games so far in 2014.