Long-ball tactics? Not from us, says Van Gaal
Louis van Gaal has angrily refuted suggestions that Manchester United adopted a long-ball approach in their weekend draw at West Ham.
United trailed for much of the second half after Cheikhou Kouyate's strike, but snatched a point in stoppage time when a ball into the box was headed partially clear to Daley Blind, who volleyed home.
Van Gaal says the stats from Upton Park were skewed by the number of balls his side played out wide, rather than up to the strikers, and the Dutchman presented a comparison to those assembled at his media conference on Tuesday to back up his argument.
The graphic showed that United's percentage of long passes had been marginally higher than that of their opponents, but that West Ham hit more than 70 per cent of their long passes forwards, compared to less than 50 per cent for United.
Van Gaal implored the press to show the comparison to West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, who accused United of long-ball tactics in the aftermath of the 1-1 draw at Upton Park.
"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," Van Gaal said.
"A ball to the forward striker is mainly called long-ball play. We are playing ball-possession play."
Van Gaal also took time to comment on defender Paddy McNair, who signed a new deal at United on Tuesday that will keep him at the club until 2017, with an option for a further year beyond that.
"You have seen that I let a lot of players play in the first squad this season and I think that he has developed himself the most, so I am very happy that he has signed already," Van Gaal said.
"I am always happy to sign young players because that gives a good spirit to the youth academy."