Sunday 25 February 2018

Furious Louis van Gaal in Rafa Benitez type meltown

Manchester United boss produces dossier arguing why his side are not a long-ball team

'It is players who win you matches, not tactics'

Paul Hirst

Louis van Gaal pulled out a dossier full of statistics at his press conference as he hit back at Sam Allardyce's claim that Manchester United are long-ball merchants.

West Ham boss Allardyce described Van Gaal's team as "long-ball United" after they scraped a 1-1 draw at Upton Park on Sunday.

But Van Gaal said Allardyce's "interpretation" was incorrect and the Dutchman produced a pamphlet filled with statistics at his pre-match press conference today to support his stance.

The statistics quoted in the A4 pamphlet, which were put together by Van Gaal's analysts, claim West Ham sent a higher percentage of their long passes forward than United during the match.

Watch Van Gaal arguing that Manchester United are not a long-ball team:

West Ham attempted 200 passes, according to the figures, and United 343.

The pamphlet said 71.1 per cent of West Ham's "long passes" - of over 25 metres - went forward whereas United's percentage was just 49.9 per cent.

Diagrams in the pamphlet claim to show United's passes went sideways or diagonally, rather than forward.

“When a colleague of mine (Allardyce) is saying this kind of thing then, yeah, you have to see the data and you have to put the data in the right context,” Van Gaal said.

“I think the media is also coming to the match and you have a lot of opinion about me, or the game, or the players and now you say that you have no opinion.

 “When you have 60% ball possession do you think that you can do that with long balls?

“Yeah, long balls, in the width, to switch the play. You have to look at the data and then you will see that we did play long balls, but long balls wide, rather than to the striker.

“A ball to the forward striker is mainly called long ball play. Because I expected this question, I have made an interpretation of the data for this game and then I have to say that it is not a good interpretation from Big Sam.

“It is not so difficult also to read that.”

With Fellaini playing a central role in United’s attacks on goal in the final stages, Van Gaal insisted his more direct approach in an attempt to salvage a point was justified.

“I am sorry, but we are playing ball possession play and after 70 minutes we did not succeed, in spite of many chances in the second half, then I changed my playing style,” Van Gaal said.

“Then, of course, with the quality of Fellaini we played more forward balls and we scored from that, so I think it was a very good decision of the manager.

“But, when you see overall the long ball, and what is the percentage of that, then West Ham have played 71% of the long balls to the forwards and we 49 per cent.

“So, I give you this (data) you can see that the blue ones (arrows) are the good ones because long balls are also very difficult, which is why I began with the explanation of ball possession.

“When you have 60% ball possession you cannot play long balls.

“So again, they did it 71 and we 49, and I give it you, you can copy it and then maybe you can go to Big Sam and he will get a good interpretation.”

Remember Rafa?:

Van Gaal, meanwhile, insisted he had no qualms over United’s style of play in recent weeks, despite claims that it has become boring.

“I think we have played attractive games and less attractive games, with every club I think, so there's no discussion,” Van Gaal said.

“You can always improve, you can never have a perfect match which I have said once in the press conference.

“You have to improve and every team has to improve, which is why we are training.

“I am happy with the results, but I also think we can improve which is also the process. We have talked about already from my first day, but we have to improve.”

Press Association

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport