Saturday 20 January 2018

'I love Van Gaal's press conferences' – Jamie Carragher praises United manager for fighting spirit

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Jamie Carragher has praised Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal for not reverting to the mundane for his press conferences and applauded his attitude in today's fiery media briefing.

Van Gaal surprised the press when he 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.

The incident has been compared to then Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez after his rant against Manchester United and Alex Ferguson back in 2009 but former Reds defender Carragher has said van Gaal's attitude is refreshing.

Read more: Furious Louis van Gaal in Rafa Benitez type meltown

"Van Gaal fought back about the long ball tag today and immediately people say he's lost it," he said.

"Managers get plenty thrown at them from fans and press so I like to see them come out at times to fight their corner. Plus it's better than the normal clichéd interview from most managers!"

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.

Read more: How Van Gaal's Man United measure up to Moyes' boys

“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.

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