Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has instructed his players to play fewer backpasses to goalkeeper David de Gea after supporters voiced their frustration during last Saturday’s Premier League win over Sunderland.
Fans booed defender Jonny Evans for passing the ball back to De Gea while United were pushing in search of the opening goal - and while Van Gaal insists players are within their rights to make a back-pass to the Spain international, he wants to see players be more adventurous with their passing when the opportunity arises.
United have been criticised for playing dull and uninspiring football under Van Gaal, whose side travel to St James’ Park to face Newcastle United this evening.
Van Gaal wants fewer passes to De Gea
Speaking about the back-pass, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach was quoted by the Guardian as saying: “That, at that moment is the solution for the player. Sometimes, in spite of there being another solution, the player has not seen that solution.
You have to give credit of your doubt to your player and you have to support him. When you make a mistake in defence it is more or less always a goal against us. You have to see that also, the fans have to see that.”
Van Gaal then went on to add: “But I agree with the fans that we don’t have to use so much the goalkeeper because I have seen also moments where we can play a higher tempo without interfering with the goalkeeper. But the goalkeeper is also the 11th player for us.
“He can accelerate our game also and sometimes the solution is, via De Gea, to play forward. Of course it is more the English style of playing a match [to attack], but I think the fans have also enjoyed Manchester playing a position game, so it is always a mix of both.”
Van Gaal's brand of football boring fans
The Red Devils’ faithful have become accustomed to watching their side play fast-flowing, entertaining football following Sir Alex Ferguson’s 26-year tenure in charge at Old Trafford.
David Moyes struggled to carry on that tradition during his ill-fated 10-month tenure with the Premier League, and the Scot’s successor Van Gaal is also failing despite the star-studded quality at his disposal.
In his first summer, the veteran Dutch coach spent £150 million on new signings, including the world-class Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao.
Tough fixtures on the horizon
Although United have failed to entertain the Old Trafford crowd on a consistent basis, for the time being they remain fourth in the Premier League - but for how long?
Following tonight’s match against the Magpies, United then play Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-finals before two daunting Premier League fixtures against Tottenham and Liverpool in the space of a week.
Their match against Aston Villa after that should - should - be a home banker for the Red Devils, before three very tricky fixtures in succession against Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton away,
With Southampton, the resurgent Liverpool and and Spurs all breathing firmly down their necks, there appears to be a very realistic chance that Manchester United will miss out on Champions League football for the second consecutive season.
Van Gaal under pressure
This would be a disaster for the club from a financial perspective and would leave Van Gaal vulnerable to the sack - after all, securing a top-four finish was his primary objective for the current campaign.
Not only must Van Gaal ensure United finish inside the top four, but he must also inspire a more entertaining brand of football with less pragmatic tactics.
Is he still the right man for the job?
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