Defence starts with strikers – Van Gaal
Manchester United have conceded too many goals, need to defend as unit, says manager
Louis van Gaal: “We have a lot of creative attacking players in our selection and I like that. But I also like to think that you have the discipline to come back in a certain shape because now we have conceded too many goals.” Photograph: PA
Louis van Gaal believes Manchester United have conceded “too many goals” and has told the team to start defending as a unit, beginning with the strikers. United have let in nine goals in six matches, with only Crystal Palace conceding more of those sides in the top half of the table, as Everton visit Old Trafford tomorrow.
“I want my defensive organisation to be better but the defence begins in the striker’s position,” he said. “It’s teamwork, so when we concede a goal it’s not only because of an individual error from the defence. It starts somewhere else and that is what we have to analyse and improve.
“All the teams are mostly scoring goals out of counterattacks against us and free-kicks and corners – not that they make their goals like we do out of building up, first, second, third and fourth phase.
“That’s the difference, and when you want to be a big team you have to perform like that. You must dominate the game. When they are organised and also when the team is organised in their own half, then you need these kinds of players [who can carry this out]. But you also need to think about the balance of the team and the defensive organisation at the same time. That is what I’m working on.”
Van Gaal rejected the suggested that having attack-minded footballers such as Angel di Maria makes the defensive side difficult. “You want to make it personal,” he said. “We are playing like a team and then you pick up on Di Maria, it’s a pity.
“We have a lot of creative attacking players in our selection and I like that. But I also like to think that you have the discipline to come back in a certain shape because now we have conceded too many goals. The media are writing it’s because of the weak defence, but no. I have explain- ed I want to improve your knowledge of football also.”
With Juan Mata favourite to replace the suspended Wayne Rooney in the number 10 role, Van Gaal would not explain what Adnan Januzaj has to do to make the starting XI. “You make it again personal. I cannot answer that, it’s personal.”