Sport Premier League

Thursday 2 October 2014

Louis van Gaal: Manchester United 'not good enough yet'

Dutch coach is highly critical of the quality of Red Devils' passing game against Sunderland and says hard work is being done in that area

Luke Edwards

Published 25/08/2014 | 09:22

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Louis van Gaal has conceded that his start as Manchester United manager has not been good enough and criticised his team for the poor quality of their passing against Sunderland.

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Van Gaal is not the sort of manager who tries to hide negatives behind a bluff of positivity and, although he did argue that his side could have had two penalties in the second half, his post-match assessment was a brutally honest appraisal of his team’s failings and limitations.

Having taken the lead through Juan Mata against the run of play, United were outplayed by Sunderland for large spells of the first half and the home side deservedly equalised when Jack Rodwell headed in his first goal for the club since his £10 million move from Manchester City.

United were better in the second half and could have been awarded a penalty when Santiago Vergini lunged in on Robin van Persie and Wes Brown stuck out a leg for Ashley Young to fall over, with the England international booked for diving.

Van Gaal argued that some referees would have awarded penalties for both incidents, but he did not hide behind a false sense of injustice.

“We can talk about these penalty issues, but we cannot change them,” Van Gaal said. “I do think we have to talk about the passing of Manchester United. I think we lost a lot of balls in situations that I don’t expect. Our passing was too slow, or too fast or too hasty.

“In the second half we were dominating possession, but we were not creating enough chances. Our creative passing in the final third was also not so good. The point of the game is to create chances and score goals, so that’s disappointing.

“I think that’s down to confidence. In the USA, the passing was much better than now. We are working everyday with passing exercises and we have to improve, but it takes time. When you win the next match the confidence comes back. It’s always the case. But we have to work a lot because the players are very disappointed after the game.

“We have thought today we shall win, but we still have only one point. That’s not good enough, I think, for Manchester United.”

Poyet was also sympathetic towards Young and admitted that United could have been given a penalty instead. But the Uruguayan, who has lined up the former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou as an alternative to Fabio Borini should the Italian reject the offer to return to Sunderland on loan, was delighted with his players.

Will Buckley was superb on his home debut following a £2.5 million move this month from Brighton & Hove Albion and Lee Cattermole was named man of the match.

“I was very pleased with the quality,” Poyet said. “We were the best team on the pitch in the first half. In the second we were suffering physically, they were stronger than us, but we held on. There were two parts to the performance and that bodes well, especially if we can bring in the two or three players I still want before deadline day.”

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