Louis van Gaal 'dossier': Manchester United manager only reveals how much 'Big Sam' Allardyce got under his skin

COMMENT: Attempt to disprove United are now a 'long-ball team' recalls Benitez's infamous 'facts' rant

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For the first time in Louis van Gaal’s tenure at Manchester United that brash air of Dutch managerial self-assurance has perhaps shown a few chinks of weakness.

Of all the managers in the Premier League, West Ham United’s Sam Allardyce seems one of the most unlikely to prick Van Gaal’s ego.

But Allardyce’s critical assessment of Van Gaal’s team being a long-ball side who used “thump it forward and see” tactics in the 1-1 draw at Upton Park on Sunday appears to have achieved just that.

Van Gaal waved pieces of paper in a pre-match press conference inside the Jimmy Murphy building at the club’s training complex yesterday afternoon in attempt to hit back at Allardyce.

In his four-page dossier was evidence, in Van Gaal’s eyes at least, that Allardyce’s claims were factually incorrect. What Allardyce has said was wrong – and the United manager had the statistics to show that.

“When a colleague of mine is saying this kind of thing, you have to see the data and you have to put the data in the right context,” said the Dutchman. “But when you see overall the long ball [statistics] you see West Ham have played 71 per cent of the long balls to the forwards and we [played] 49 per cent.

“I give it to you, you can copy it and you can go to Big Sam and he will get a good interpretation.”

The 63-year-old’s response to Allardyce’s comments brought stunned looks among the gathered media and left the club’s press staff shifting uncomfortably as the television pictures readily emphasised.

It is hard not to make comparisons with Rafael Benitez’s infamous  “facts” rant in 2009 when he was manager of Liverpool, and indeed it is difficult to think of former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson so readily biting on the bait offered by Allardyce.

The document, compiled by the performance analysis team at United, had diagrams of where every single pass had been intended to reach.

Successful passes were highlighted in blue and unsuccessful in red and also for the time after the introduction of United substitute Marouane Fellaini in the 76th minute.

Van Gaal quipped that anyone who was under the impression United were a long-ball team was “talking in behind” as he went on to elaborate on the difference between his side’s direct play and West Ham’s.

“I will give you this data and you can see that the blue ones are the good ones because long balls are also very difficult,” Van Gaal said. “Of course we play some long balls. But more long balls in the width than to the strikers.


“A long ball to the forward striker is mainly called long-ball play. When you have nearly 60 per cent ball possession, do you think you can do that with long balls?

“Yes long balls, but it was in the width when you switch the play. I am sorry but we are playing ball-possession play,” he added.

Ahead of this evening’s encounter with Burnley at Old Trafford, Van Gaal admitted that his side will improve their playing style over time  which he feels is inherently linked to being able to field a settled team.

Van Gaal said: “You know that when you see my career I think that it is enough answer about the style, but in this world you have to win and play attractive

“But that’s not so simple. We have never played with the same team. I was not allowed to play with the same team as I had to always look for a solution because of the injured players. Now I  can play more with the  same team.

“Still, when you see the fans against Cambridge United, there were a lot of them so they are obviously enjoying the games.

“When I am on the streets they show that to me, so I don’t think that we are not playing attractive enough for the fans. I always get applause, so I think that everyone is still happy.”

Paddy McNair, the 19-year-old United defender, has signed a new contract which will keep him at Old Trafford until 2017 with the option of an extra year.