Man United 'under enormous pressure' to win Premier League - Dirk Kuyt

Former Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt has said that Manchester United are "under enormous pressure" to become Premier League champions, ahead of facing them with Feyenoord on Thursday.

Kuyt, 36, has struck three times this season in the Eredivisie to help Feyenoord to five wins from five and top spot ahead of their Europa League group-stage clash at home to United.

The former Netherlands international knows the Red Devils well from his time at Liverpool and feels, given the money they spent in the summer on new signings as well as the arrival of Jose Mourinho, there is plenty of expectation being placed on them this season.

"I think they are under enormous pressure because everyone wants them to win the league," he told a news conference ahead of Thursday's game. "They are a contender for the league."

United captain Wayne Rooney was not in the 20-man squad that Mourinho has opted to take with him to the Netherlands to face Feyenoord.

Other absentees are Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones, giving other players the chance to step up.

Discussing Rooney's absence, Kuyt said: "I think it is a shame for us because we want to perform against the best players in Europe."

Mourinho is expected to make changes to his starting XI and has already confirmed Marcus Rashford will play at De Kuip.

But whatever line-up Feyenoord face, coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst believes it will be a tough challenge against one of the world's best teams.

"It's a very big game for us against one of the biggest teams in the world. It's a big challenge," Van Bronckhorst said. "We are playing against a top team and will have to be patient. You will be punished if you make mistakes at this level. We have to take our chances.

"The squad United are taking to Rotterdam has a lot of individual quality and experience. United have a number of players who can make the difference. No matter what their team looks like on Thursday, we will be prepared.

"This is a difficult group with some strong opponents, but our goal is to survive the group stages. We want to play as many big games as possible. It would be a big bonus for us if we still play in Europe after the winter break."