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Van Gaal: United not a long ball team

10 February 2015, 18:12

London - Riled Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal waved a sheaf of statistics at reporters on Tuesday 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.

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 are 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)."

Gangly midfielder Fellaini came on as a late substitute against West Ham, with the Belgium international playing a central role in winning the aerial battles and disrupting the defence.

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 on Tuesday.

"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."

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- Reuters


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