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Louis van Gaal goes on a rant after Sam Allardyce's 'long-ball United' tag

Utathya Nag
2.31K   //    10 Feb 2015, 21:22 IST
Van Gaal came up with a four page document in response to ‘long ball’ allegations

Louis van Gaal today came out with a response to Sam Allardyce’s ‘long-ball United’ tag.  In an unorthodox press conference, the Manchester United manger came armed with a four page dossier containing a series of diagrams and statistics to prove Allardyce wrong. He asked the journalists present to ‘copy it and go to Big Sam’.

The West Ham boss Sam Allardyce described Van Gaal’s Manchester United as ‘long-ball United’ after the teams drew 1-1 at Upton Park on the weekend.

Van Gaal’s proof, however, does state that United played 83 long balls to West Ham’s 45 and 24.2% of United’s total number of passes were long passes compared to 22.5% of the Hammers’.

First page indicated percentage of passes played forward

Van Gaal’s argument however revolved around the number of long passes played forward by United during the course of the game was 41 compared to West Ham’s 32. So statistically, United only played 49.9% of their long passes forward while West Ham directed 71.1% of their long passes upfield. Hence most of United’s long balls were means to switch the play.

It is not a good interpretation from Big Sam: Van Gaal

Van Gaal also presented diagrams of where every single pass was aimed with successful passes highlighted in blue and unsuccessful ones in red. He also presented separate data for the time after 76 minutes, when he brought on Fellaini.

Van Gaal said, “When a colleague of mine is saying this kind of thing, you have to see the data and you have to put the data in the right context. When you have 60% ball possession do you think that you can do that with long balls? 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.

“It is not so difficult to read. 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 strikers. Long balls, in the width, to switch the play.

“I am sorry, but we are playing ball-possession and after 70 minutes we did not succeed, in spite of many chances in the second half, so then I changed my playing style. Then, of course, with the quality of (Marouane) Fellaini, we played more forward balls and we scored from that, so I think it was a very good decision of the manager.


“But when you see overall the long ball (statistics) you see West Ham have played 71% of the long balls to the forwards and we (played) 49%. So, I will give you this data and you can see that the blue ones are the good ones because long balls are also very difficult, which is why I began with the explanation of ball possession.

“When you have 60% ball possession you cannot play long balls. So again, they did it 71 and we 49, and I give it you, you can copy it and you can go to Big Sam and he will get a good interpretation,” he added.

When asked if aiming long forwarded passes to Fellaini was against United’s style of play, the Dutchman responded by saying, “You start (the question) wrong because Marouane Fellaini was not playing before 70 minutes. We did not do that (hit it long), I am sorry, you are saying what is not happening. We can play along the floor against Cambridge and we did, so it is not true what you are saying. Because of Big Sam, you are talking in behind, but it is not like that.”

Van Gaal also expressed his satisfaction at United’s playing style this season. “I think we have played attractive games and less attractive games, with every club I think, so there’s no discussion,” he concluded.

Here’s the full rant on video