By Chris Wright
Oh dear, looks like Louis van Gaal’s just had his “Rafa’s facts” moment…
Van Gaal very indignant. Ended up telling us to take it off him. “Copy it and present it to Big Sam.” Here is one: pic.twitter.com/kHsc4gjU9s
— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) February 10, 2015
Irked by Large Samuel’s tongue-in-cheek assertion that Manchester United resorted to long-ball tactics to sneak a draw against West Ham on Sunday evening, the Dutchman prepared and presented journalists with a print-out of United’s passing stats against the Hammers to prove otherwise.
“Because I expected this question (about long balls), 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,” Van Gaal pontificated.
“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 striker.”
“When you have 60% ball possession do you think that you can do that with long balls?”
You got long-ass balls Louis. Long-ass balls.
Big Sam couldn’t be reached for a reaction, but we imagine it was something like this…
Anyway, according to Van Gaal’s diagrams, West Ham sent a higher percentage of their long passes forward than United during the game, with 71% percent of the Hammers long passes (anything longer than 25 metres) going straight up to their strikers, as opposed to just 49.9% of the away side’s.
Just hark at the look on United’s press officer’s face when she’s forced to hands over the pamphlets…
Van Gaal also used the pass maps to demonstrate that the majority of United’s 25+ metre passes went sideways or diagonal, rather than forward – which, we suppose, is meant to be a good thing.
It’s becoming a slight pet peeve of Pies’ that managers are deliberately attempting to shame teams out of “going direct” like aimless, flaccid possession retention is the be all and end all.
After all, United switched to the long-ball approach for the last 10 minutes or so and came away with a point after failing to create anything of note in the previous 80.
It works (sometimes). Deal with it.