Van Gaal: We must defend as a team

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Louis van Gaal has underlined the importance of Manchester United working together as a team as they aim to end their defensive woes.

United boast an enviable array of attacking talents, with Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao having arrived at Old Trafford to join the likes of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata.

However, keeping goals out has proven a problem in the early stages of Van Gaal's maiden season at the helm, with last month's 5-3 defeat to Leicester City highlighting the fragility of a defence undermined by a host of injuries.

Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans remain sidelined for Sunday's home game against Everton, which threatens to provide the sternest test United have faced so far this season.

Yet Van Gaal believes the responsibility for defending well should not rest solely on the players selected in his backline.

"I want my defensive organisation to be better but the defence begins in the striker’s position," said the Dutchman.

"It's teamwork, so when we concede a goal it's not only because of an individual error from the defence. It starts somewhere else and that is what we have to analyse and improve.

"All the teams are mostly scoring goals out of counter-attacks against us and free-kicks and corners – not that they make their goals like we do out of building up, first, second, third and fourth phase.

"That's the difference and, when you want to be a big team, you have to perform like that. You must dominate the game.

"When they are organised and also when the team is organised in their own half, then you need these kinds of players [who can carry this out]. But you also need to think about the balance of the team and the defensive organisation at the same time. That is what I’m working on."

Taking a swipe at media criticism of his defence, Van Gaal added: "We have a lot of creative attacking players in our selection and I like that but I also like to think that you have the discipline to come back in a certain shape because now we have conceded too many goals.

"The media are writing it's because of the weak defence, but no. I have explained I want to improve your knowledge of football also."