We are not 'long ball United', says Man Utd manager

Louis van Gaal produces statistical evidence in a press conference to refute claims by rival manager.

    Van Gaal's side were rescued by an injury-time equaliser against West Ham [Getty Images]
    Van Gaal's side were rescued by an injury-time equaliser against West Ham [Getty Images]

    Riled Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal waved a sheaf of statistics at reporters to refute suggestions that his direct tactics were turning the team into 'long ball United'.

    West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce had spoken out about United's 'thump it forward and see what happens' approach in grabbing a stoppage-time equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Upton Park on Sunday.

    Although no stranger to the route one approach, Allardyce hit a nerve and stung the volatile Van Gaal into a spirited response ahead of Wednesday's home Premier League match against Burnley.

    You have to look at the data and then you will see we did play long balls, but long balls wide, rather than to the striker

    Louis van Gaal, Manchester United manager

    Producing four pages of evidence, he questioned Allardyce's reasoning and suggested reporters copy the sheets and 'then maybe you can go to Big Sam and he will get a good interpretation'.

    "We're playing ball possession play and after 70 minutes (at West Ham) we don't succeed in spite of many chances in the second half, then I changed my playing style," the Dutchman said.

    "And then, of course, with the quality of (Marouane) Fellaini, we played more forward balls. We scored, so I think it was a very good decision of the manager.

    "But, when you see overall the long balls, and what is the percentage of that, then West Ham United have played 71 percent of the long balls to the forwards and we 49 (percent)."

    Fellaini's influence

    Van Gaal had acknowledged at the time that the introduction of Fellaini had changed the team's style of play but said it was warranted in the circumstances.

    "You have to see the data and you have to put the data in the right context," he said.

    "When you have 60 percent ball possession, do you think that you can do that with long balls? Yes, long balls, in the width, to switch the play. You have to look at the data and then you will see 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."

    SOURCE: Reuters


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