Louis van Gaal has declared that all the Manchester United players are "aware" they are playing for their futures - and also suggested that Wayne Rooney's days as a striker may be over.
The United manager has moved Rooney into midfield this season - a role his predecessor David Moyes had also planned for the England international - and said that his "contribution to the team is bigger" in that position.
United face West Ham United away in the Premier League today as the battle to finish within the top four - a minimum requirement for Van Gaal - and qualify for the Champions League intensifies.
United's stuttering season has again raised questions over the future of several big-name players, particularly those such as Dutch striker Robin van Persie who have only 18 months left on their contracts, and Van Gaal conceded there was "a lot of pressure on the players".
Asked whether they were playing for their futures he said: "Yes, I think now all of them are aware. Because a lot of players were on the bench or in the stands. They know they have to perform in the training, and not only on the training pitch but also in the match. But [in] the match everybody knows you have to perform, but also on the training sessions also 100 per cent. A lot of players were not aware of that and now they know."
Van Gaal appointed Rooney as his captain last summer and the England forward, 29, remains an important part of the club's plans - even if he has been moved into a more unfamiliar midfield role. "But I don't think he ever complains about where he has to play," Van Gaal said while adding that he had not given up using Rooney, a "multifunctional player", as a striker.
"And I think he is also liking to play in midfield, because he is more on the ball. So he is enjoying it more.
"I look to the qualities of the player and where the player can perform better for himself. Then he has a major contribution for the team and that is what I'm saying to Wayne - your contribution for the team is bigger now when you play at right-half [in midfield]. Why? You cross the ball and can pass the ball better as you are on the right side."
Van Gaal conceded that Rooney could be a victim of his own versatility. "Not many players can play in so many positions like Rooney because he is multifunctional. "But that is also not always a benefit for him as I can use him anywhere.
A player normally doesn't like that so I have to take care of that. But I like multifunctional players."