Louis van Gaal: I won’t sacrifice flair to make Manchester United more solid

United dominated possession but could only draw 2-2 with West Brom

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The Independent Football

Louis van Gaal insists he will not compromise his team’s attacking flair even though West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Irvine is the latest to highlight Manchester United’s defensive vulnerability.

United dominated possession in Monday’s 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns, but salvaged a point only through Daley Blind’s equaliser with three minutes left after Albion had twice gone ahead with goals from Stéphane Sessègnon and Saido Berahino which, according to Irvine, were “two great examples of how you take advantage of a team that is so spread out”.

Irvine, who coached under Van Gaal’s predecessor, David Moyes, at both Preston North End and Everton, said he had prepared for the game with United’s weaknesses at the heart of his tactical thinking.

“When you play as openly and expansively as they do then clearly you are open when you lose possession and that is an opportunity for you to try to hurt them with a quick counter attack,” he said.

When Van Gaal was asked what to expect from Chelsea and Manchester City – United’s next two opponents – if West Bromwich could pick them off so easily, he said: “With great respect to West Bromwich Albion, it is a different situation. Chelsea is another level, Manchester City also. You cannot compare. I don’t think to sacrifice flair is the solution. We made two errors, and also in past matches. We could have eight more points.”

Meanwhile, Luke Shaw has vowed to improve and admitted he is yet to hit top form at United. The £27m defender knows he has struggled to adapt since his summer move from Southampton.

Van Gaal criticised his fitness levels in the summer and gave him his own training plan, something Shaw admitted he was right to do.

The 19-year-old gave the  honest assessment of his start at Old Trafford after Monday’s game.

He said: “They haven’t seen the best of me yet. I know I haven’t been up to my full potential and maybe people can see that at the moment. I am trying hard and it’s about getting used to everything.

“When you come to a club like this it’s never easy for a young player like me. But I’ll get myself started soon and put in good performances. I wouldn’t say I’ve been horrendous but I know I can do much better.”

Shaw, who played for England in this summer’s World Cup, also dropped back to the Under-21s this month to help them qualify for Euro 2015.

Luke Shaw admitted he can improve his performances

But he felt playing two games against Croatia provided a boost to his fitness.

“It always helps and the main thing for me was it was two 90 minutes’ worth for fitness. I feel fit but like I said I haven’t played my best recently,” said the left-back.

“I could still get a bit fitter from working hard in training. But I do feel pretty fit.”