Monday 23 October 2017

Analysis: Are Louis van Gaal's tactics to blame for lack of Manchester United goals?

Louis van Gaal Manager of Manchester United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford
Louis van Gaal Manager of Manchester United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford

Manchester United went into the Barclays Premier League home clash against West Ham with their brand of football under Louis van Gaal a hot topic of discussion.

While they had been keeping plenty of clean sheets, the Red Devils' possession-based style had also delivered relatively few goals and been widely criticised as boring, with cries of "attack, attack, attack" being yelled at the team by some United supporters pining for the more dynamic displays of old.

Here, Press Association Sport assesses how Van Gaal's men performed in the 0-0 draw with the Hammers.

DEFENDING

Van Gaal selected a back four on this occasion having gone with a three-man defence against Leicester and - with debutant Guillermo Varela coming on in place of Paddy McNair midway through - another shut-out was successfully secured.

But United survived some major scares, particularly in the first half, with David de Gea saving well when Victor Moses was clean through, and West Ham striking the post twice in quick succession off the heads of Mauro Zarate and Winston Reid. Zarate then passed up a decent opportunity after the break, skewing his shot wide.

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Paddy McNair joined Sunderland on loan from Manchester United

ATTACKING

In the absence of the injured Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini started in the number 10 position behind Anthony Martial, flanked on either side by Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata.

A promising start going forward, during which Fellaini made a nuisance of himself and Martial was only denied by a superb Reid block, faded as the first half went on, even though the hosts had the greater share of the ball.

United were then more on the front foot again for a lot of the second half, but they could not find a way through a determined West Ham backline. They had an impressive 21 shots at goal, but only one of them was on target.

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Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini appears dejected after the final whistle of the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday December 5, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Man Utd. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

CROWD REACTION

A mixed bag during the match. At one point during the first half, West Ham fans interjected the more or less complete silence from their United counterparts by singing "this is The Emirates", comparing the atmosphere with the oft-mocked one of Arsenal.

The calls for more attacking football from the United faithful also came and went at different stages - and there were loud boos at the final whistle.

OVERALL

Some encouraging moments for United, but the fact is that it was a fourth 0-0 draw in six home games in all competitions - so ultimately, more of the same.

Press Association

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