Monday 24 October 2016

Reds take 131 passes for a shot on goal

Louis van Gaal holds his clipboard during Saturday’s defeat by Norwich
Louis van Gaal holds his clipboard during Saturday’s defeat by Norwich

Manchester United's insistence on playing possession football under manager Louis van Gaal means they take far more passes for every shot than any other Premier League team, statistics released yesterday show.

According to details from leading football data specialists Opta, league leaders Leicester City need only 46 successful passes for a shot on target. That is the fewest in the league while United's 131 passes is the most.

Damningly, United have managed just seven shots on target in their last four home games - also the worst record in the league - leading to regular chants of "attack, attack, attack" from the Old Trafford crowd.

The total number of shots on target from 17 games is 61, the 15th lowest. Tottenham are top with 110 and Manchester City second with 104.

In the past two months United have played five goalless draws at home, against Manchester City, Middlesbrough, CSKA Moscow, PSV Eindhoven and West Ham.

Not surprisingly, their goals total is unusually low - 22, compared to 43 at the same stage in Alex Ferguson's last season three years ago.

Under Van Gaal this time last year it was 30, with goals conceded also higher. But Steve Round, who was assistant manager to the Dutchman's predecessor David Moyes, says the new style is now very much in evidence.

"They are very possession-based, so they will create less opportunities," he said.

"I always felt they used to be very forward-thinking, forward-passing. That was always the sort of style, with energy, verve and directness. Now they seem to have come away from that.

"The style they're playing is the Louis van Gaal way. Whether that in the long run is going to be enough for Manchester United we'll see."

Losing 2-1 at home Norwich City on Saturday was a sixth game without a win and cost United their place in the top four of the Premier League.

It has put Van Gaal under pressure after five months of his second season in charge, not least because Jose Mourinho, sacked by Chelsea last week, wants a new job and is reported to be keen on taking over at Old Trafford.

United play away to Stoke City on Saturday.

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