Former Premier League footballer Steve Claridge has hit out at Louis van Gaal's tactics at Manchester United, claiming they are 'so bad it beggars belief'.
The Red Devils stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Swansea over the weekend, a result which drops them down to fourth place with just three points separating them from Tottenham in seventh.
Just 12 games remain for Manchester United to secure a return to the Champions League, and with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward setting the target of finishing third this term Van Gaal is under pressure having overseen just four wins in his last ten games.
Claridge, who had spells with Leicester, Crystal Palace and Portsmouth and is now a pundit for the BBC, told 5 Live: "There's this myth built up around Van Gaal. His tactics are so bad that it actually beggars belief. I don't think anyone can believe how bad the tactics are."
Van Gaal has come in for criticism from some for playing some of his top stars out of position this season, most notably Wayne Rooney who has been deployed in a deeper midfield role. He's also been urged by some fans to abandon his favoured 3-5-2 formation.
Claridge continued: "I don't know what he's trying to do. He had Marouane Fellaini left wing, he had Wayne Rooney on the right wing. [In the past] He had Di Maria up front and Rooney in midfield, he's played Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia as wing-backs, you could go on and on and on. No one is playing well.
Manchester United had the perfect start against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium after Ander Herrera's low drive found the bottom corner with just 28 minutes on the clock, only for Sung-Yong Ki to level things up two minutes later.
Bafetimbi Gomis then helped his side seal the double over the Red Devils having won at Old Trafford on the first day of the season when he turned home Jonjo Shelvey's shot with 73 minutes gone.
Despite the defeat Van Gaal insisted afterwards that his side well and that their only problem was they they 'forgot' to score.
“It is always frustrating to lose when you have been the dominating team, and our disappointment is much bigger because of that. In the first half it was an equal game," the Dutch boss claimed on Saturday. "In the second half there was a big difference. Swansea had a chance in the first minute and after that we dominated the game."
Van Gaal has certainly been experimental this season - and if it comes off he's a genius. However as it stands he's being labelled a fool and his side are not only struggling to get points, they're not playing very well either as Saturday showed. They had only three shots on target all game and failed to go for the kill in the final moments when Swansea took the lead. Angel di Maria's abject performance seemed to sum it all up.
The battle for fourth place is well and truly on and with Arsenal and Liverpool looking so strong there is no guarantee of a return to the top table of European football for Manchester United. Despite that, there would be no point in sacking Van Gaal. His role in the rebuilding at Old Trafford is to lay the foundations for future success and it's that which will decide how long he's at the club, not where they finish this season.
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