Van Gaal dispels Man Utd long ball criticism

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has dispelled criticism levelled at his side’s apparent long ball tactics, Sky Sports is reporting, by producing a dossier of match facts from their game against West Ham.

Hammers boss Sam Allardyce had aimed criticism at the Dutchman after United grabbed a last minutes equaliser at Upton Park on Sunday.

Allardyce labelled Van Gaal’s side as “Long Ball United”, something that has irked the Old Trafford boss.

And when questions were put to him during his press conference ahead of the midweek Premier League fixtures he said Allardyce’s “interpretation” of events on Sunday was wrong before producing a pamphlet of statistics from which he quoted.

According to his document Van Gaal claimed United had attempted 343 passes during the 1-1 draw compared to 200 by West Ham – and that 71.1% of these by the home side were over 25 metres, or long balls, while the Red Devils boasted a percentage of only 49.9.

Van Gaal said: “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.

“When you have 60 per cent 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 caused long-ball play.

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

Van Gaal did admit when he brought on Marouane Fellaini in the 76th minute of the game that his side did begin to make more long balls forward as they searched for an equaliser.

And after making his comments, the Dutchman handed the papers to a journalist to look for himself – claiming if anything it should be seen as a good decision by himself to switch to long ball tactics, having got their equaliser as a result.

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