Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho dismissed suggestions his team were not behind him, saying only "dishonest" players based their performance on whether they liked the boss.
The pressure is again mounting on Mourinho, whose United side are winless in three Premier League games and sit eighth in the table.
They host fourth-placed Arsenal on Wednesday, and a loss would see United fall 11 points behind Unai Emery's men.
Mourinho had claimed that anything was possible for his side and that they would not need a miracle to finish in the top four , with the chance to make up points on fourth on Wednesday.
But amid questions over his relationship with his players, Mourinho said they had a job to do and claimed that professional players are paid to perform.
"If you think a player only plays when, in your words, he is behind the manager, what I have to call these players or, in this case, what you are calling them, is dishonest," he told a pre-match press conference.
"A football player is paid – and very well paid – to be a football professional. What is that?
"It is to train every day to his limits, to play every game to his limits, to behave socially according to the nature of his job, to respect the millions of fans around the world and to respect the hierarchies in the club.
"If a player doesn’t do that, one thing is to perform well and not so well, another thing is to be a football professional.
"If you say that a player plays well or bad because of how good a manager is, you are calling the player dishonest.”
After Manchester City's win on Tuesday, United are now 19 points behind the league leaders, though they can close that gap with a win over the Gunners.