LVG: “United better at defending than at going forward”

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Manchester-United-v-Newcastle-United (2)Louis Van Gaal has admitted that Manchester United are better without the ball than with it, insisting that the defensive solidity United have shown so far was extremely important.

The Dutchman has attracted criticism for a style of football that is perceived to be too rigid and not as expansive as fans demand, but the former Holland manager claimed defensive organisation was just as important as scoring goals.

“Until now, of course, our defensive organisation,” Van Gaal replied when asked what had been the most pleasing aspect of the season so far.

“I divide football in four main moments and we have two moments where the opponent has ball – and then we are at our best, I think.”

However, Van Gaal, who earlier this week insisted United did not need to sign another striker this summer, admitted that there was a lot of room for improvement in the final third of the pitch, after his side scored just two goals in their first three league games of the season.

“We proved that last year already and now we are continuing with a lot of clean sheets, so that is very important, but we have to improve when we have the ball.”

United travel to Brugge on Wednesday night knowing that a draw, or even a one-goal defeat, would ensure a return to the Champions League proper after a season-long absence.

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11 Comments

  1. What about the bit concerning using Fellaini as a striker?! If LvG is really serious about the latter then all I can say is – God help us! I mean I don’t mind Fellaini coming on with 10 minutes to go when we are desperately chasing a game, but starting the big fella as target man upfront means 90 minutes of mainly hoof ball (no need to both too much about No 10s then!). What an awful prospect! Or is it just LvG mumbo jumbo at work again whilst Woody tries, ever more desperately, to buy someone ?

    • @Julian: I imagine that at this very moment Woody is in negotiation with an old peoples home in Sao Paolo to buy Pele for a world record fee, so we won’t have to worry too much about Fellaini.
      In all fairness I think that Utd’s defence is pretty much sorted, especially when Rojo returns to partner Smalling, allowing Blind to play further upfield. I sincerely hope that LVG’s comments are mumbo jumbo and there is at least a further striking addition before the end of the window.
      If Utd are really willing to spend silly money, then instead of Neymar I would look to sign DeBruyne and Greizmann and really terrorize defences at home and in Europe.

      • @storm: Our current style of football does not accomodate strikers that can terrorize defences with their skills like Falcao. We need someone that can bully defences like Drogba or Ruud Van Nistlerooi.

  2. I think Fellaini up front makes much more sense than we could imagine. I just don’t know why it took so long for LVG to realise he had the solution all along. Here’s to hoping it works out.
    We need a strong Drogba type of player for cf (check)
    We need someone than can hold up the ball well (check)
    Good eye for goal (check)
    Discipline in keeping position…unlike our current cf (check)
    Target man (check)
    Know the EPL (check)
    Can bring others into play (check)
    Tall (check)
    Versitality (check)

    What would a £60m Muller or Cavani provide over a “free” Fellaini?

    • @Karl: this woulf also allow Rooney to drop deeper as 2nd striker/no.10 and play hid natural game by getting more involved. However, in saying that, I would prefer to see someone like Mata in that position.

    • @Karl: As thing stand, Utd certainly have very little to lose playing Fellaini as a striker, though I’m not sure it’s much of a long term solution. I also think that if you’re going to play a battering ram of a striker then the No 10 needs to be something of a lock picker, which would suggest Mata rather than Rooney. Unless you have both Rooney and Fellaini with Mata in the hole, which might work if the midfield three were more adventurous and faster,that for me would count out Carrick and Schweinsteiger.So maybe Blind, Schneiderlin and Herrera could provide both the ammunition and the cover. It would certainly rule out playing two CDM’s. It would also be a massive gamble for LVG though, if it came off he would be a genius, if not, he would be seen as desperate or even clueless, but I suppose it would show some willingness to experiment with players and tactics.

      • @storm:I believe you’re right. That’s also why I feel Rooney is unbalancing the team (as good as what he is). All the managers love him. But, I think it is his ability to play very well in different positions. Problem is, he is not the best in any of them. In my opinion, he is more like the exotic version of O’Shea or Blind. The fact that he has always been undropable is what’s causing the imbalance.

  3. I can’t believe peeps are actually thinking Fellaini as a striker is a good thing. You’ve seen what happens towards the end of games when we try to hoof the ball up to him from all angles. We seem to play on auto and it’s all rather desperate and, quite frankly, somewhat pathetic. Do you really want to see that sort of thing for much longer in a game when Fellaini starts as target man? I cannot think of a more regressive step at a time when LvG is supposed to be trying to build a team that plays really good football to compete at the highest level.

    Then again, what do I know?!

    • @Julian: As a long term solution it’s an appalling thought, but short term, with Rooney misfiring and those around him looking inexperienced, it might be an option. After all, it worked for Sheffield Wednesday with Paul Warhurst all those years ago, but in all honesty if Utd and VG are to be taken seriously, they need to sign a credible striker, and soon.
      Anyway, believe me, I’m not trying to convince you, I’m trying to convince myself.

      • @storm: I don’t know if Woody’s got something up his sleeve but somehow I think he’s exhausted all the options – apart from being personally exhausted from trying to knock down so many doors which are firmly shut.

        I don’t mind Fellaini coming on as an impact sub but to have the attacking focus on him from the start is a ghastly thought. Assuming no magical solution emerges in the next week, why not give Hernandez a run there or even Wilson? After all Chicharito has an excellent goal scoring record for us. The trouble with his situation is he can’t get anyone to give him consistent starts right now.

        Then again, if Fellaini scores a hat trick against Liverpool no-one will give a damn how he did it or the style of football which resulted in it !

        Getting real again for a moment, I see Fellaini only scored 33 goals in 171 appearances for Everton where I think he played mostly as a striker. Perhaps, as with us, he was a bit all over the place, I cant remember. Nevertheless a strike rate of a goal every 5 games is not good by any stretch. Perhaps LvG is having us all on a bit here !

    • @Julian: Playing Fellaini as a striker is NOT a good thing (long or short term) because of the hoofball tactics we know arises. HOWEVER, it is clear that this type of striker is what LVG seems to be craving to make his posession football seem like attacking football. You have to admit though, using Fellaini like that is better than buying a Muller for £70m and using him the same way. If he intended a different “striker approach” he would have used Hernandes or Wilson already or would have kept hold of Falcao, RVP, or gotten Pedro or Benzema or another classy striker.

      I don’t like the idea of the type of football it will unleash, but I am sure it will be successful. Maybe that’s what we need in the interim until Depay ,Januzai, Wilson and Herrera matures. I think the 4 of them with Sneiderlin will become key for us and provide the flowing attacking football we so crave.

      With the backline consisting of Smalling, Rojo/Blind, Shaw and Darmian, I’m sure our future is being addressed. We just need to hope that we get there in tact with a trophy or two. Hench the desperation move.
      IMHO.

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