Michael Carrick claims it is "disrespectful" to say Manchester United's players are not giving their all for Louis van Gaal.
Van Gaal is under increasing pressure after United crashed out of the Champions League and dropped to sixth in the Premier League.
United's latest defeat to Stoke on Boxing Day stretched their winless run to seven matches, but Carrick insists it would be wrong to think that shows the players are not fighting for the manager.
"I have a lot of pride in myself and in my performances and I think it is a bit disrespectful when people say that the lads aren't trying for the manager," the United vice-captain said.
"That hurts us a lot because that is not the type of people we are.
"We haven't won games and it is fair enough if people criticise things that have gone wrong on the pitch.
"But to say we are not trying for certain people is quite disrespectful and it hurts us a lot.
"We're playing for this great club. It is a special club. It is pride in yourself, pride in the club and pride in everyone - your team-mates and staff."
Carrick admitted the players' pride had been dented by United's longest run without a win since the 1989-90 season, and called on his team-mates to respond by beating Chelsea at Old Trafford today.
"It is a horrible run, and it is a horrible feeling. It hurts badly," said the midfielder, who captained the side at Stoke as Wayne Rooney was dropped to the bench.
"The run we've been on is just not good enough. We can't hide from it, we're not going to hide from it. That is how it is and we all need to be better.
"We've just got to try and turn it round. It is the only way. Thankfully there is one (game) coming quickly, so we have to get ready for that."
Van Gaal, despite being in a negative mood following Saturday's defeat, believes his players will fight for him at Old Trafford.
When asked if he thought the players still believed in him, the 64-year-old said: "Until now, I can say 'yes'."
There was an admission from the United manager that the Reds had regressed since they momentarily topped the table with a 2-1 win at Watford last month.
"A month ago we were first in the Premier League but we lost important games and now we have to come back in more difficult situations than last year because last year everyone believed and there was progression, now there is a fallback and that is different and everybody is judging also different," he said.
"That is what is happening now and you have to cope with it."
United's freefall has been profound. They are now sixth in the table having won two league games in their last nine.
Even David Moyes had garnered more points at this stage of his sole season in charge.
In fact, should United fail to win today, they will end the year with their lowest points total in 26 years.
Van Gaal frankly admitted his players did not "dare" play their best football at Stoke.
The United squad contains so many stars that should not - in theory - be so mentally fragile, but Van Gaal believes it can happen to the best of players.
"No, I don't think so because I have seen that also in my other jobs," he said when asked if he expected his team to be mentally stronger.
"When you lose in a top team then it is always more difficult to cope with your environment and you cannot say that it is much more different in Manchester.
"You see, of course, that different players cope with that pressure. That is also in other teams.
"It's different for every individual player, for every human being, how they want to cope with it - and it is not so easy."
With just one day between matches, Van Gaal admits there will be little opportunity for his players to regain their fitness for the match against the Premier League champions.
"It's very difficult because we have to recover, we start after we travel (back from Stoke) and we have to prepare also the game, it's very tough to do that," Van Gaal concluded.