Tactics Zone: The Long Ball Game, The Right Way To Go For Manchester United?

“We couldn’t cope with long ball….”, that was the quote doing the round after a tough 1-1 draw between West Ham United and Manchester United, it took a late goal by Daley Blind to rescue a point for Manchester United after they were outplayed for most of the game and funnily this quote might have been something as an attribute to a Sam Allardyce team but instead the full quote goes like this.

“In the end, we couldn’t cope with the long balls Manchester United kept putting in the box, It was just, thump it forward and see what they could get. In the end, it paid off for them.”

Sam Allardyce brought out this gem about a Manchester United who have the likes of Falcao, Ven Persie, Rooney, Di Maria, Mata and the lesser likes of Young and Januzaj in their squad. There always was an expectation that Manchester United will go goal crazy after the signings of Di Maria and Falcao but as seen during their latest excursion, they are just not clicking.

The players are there but is the game plan set?

Louis Van Gaal
Louis Van Gaal

It is not like Manchester United are not scoring enough, they have scored 40 goals in 24 games and are the league’s 4th highest goal scorers but their style has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism from the pundits and fans.

The next part of this saga was Louis Van Gaal coming into the press conference today with A4 sheets proving from stats from his team that Big Sam’s West Ham had in fact more long pass % than Manchester United, while the press might scoff at this stat based “facht” but this does set a dangerous precedent for Manchester United and its future games.

Manchester United have always played this great brand of attacking football and are known to have the players to do this, while we have never actually seen a Manchester United team go completely crazy for the long ball, from the stats presented by Van Gaal, Manchester United played 83 long passes (greater than 25 metres) in the game while West Ham had only 45, clearly it was United who were doing the long ball thumping but is it really such a bad thing?

There are a couple of issues to be discussed here:

1: Manchester United do not play great attacking football all the time: The stats say it and well the game play also does prove to be a little damning, Manchester United are not playing the free flowing football they are known for. The fear factor of facing Manchester United seems to have evaporated as teams are willing to have a go and it was a miracle as to how West Ham did not score more than one goal against United.

2: At least they have a plan B: Well, we all remember David Moyes’ team having a plethora of crosses when United lost to Swansea in the FA Cup last season and it seems that Louis Van Gaal has followed something similar in having a second tactic, which often becomes his go to tactic.

Having a plan B is a requirement in the Premier League, in fact having a plan C and D is also favourable but having to constantly play the long ball tactic when you have spent millions of pound on players certainly won’t do, if United do not make the Champions League there could be huge repercussion for Van Gaal.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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