Louis van Gaal is RIGHT - Manchester United are NOT a long ball team

Sam Allardyce described the Dutchman's side as 'long ball United' - it infuriated Van Gaal and here's why

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Louis van Gaal was clearly riled by suggestions Manchester United have become a long-ball side.

That was the accusation levelled at the Dutchman after Sunday's 1-1 draw with West Ham, in which United only salvaged a point by bringing on 6ft 4in Marouane Fellaini and pumping long balls forward.

Van Gaal conceded he had switched tactics as the match wore on - "a very good decision of the manager" he said yesterday - but denies he has turned the Red Devils into a long ball team.

“When a colleague of mine (West Ham manager Sam Allardyce) is saying this kind of thing, you have to see the data and you have to put the data in the right context,” Van Gaal said as he produced a number of diagrams to help him make his point.


Statistics show that Manchester United play the second highest number of long balls per game of any side in the Premier League. Only Burnley, tonight's opponents, play more.

But those figures don't tell the whole story.

Whilst Manchester United play a lot of long passes, they also enjoy more possession than most teams and make a lot more passes in general.

Statistics from Squawka.com show...

  • Manchester United have made the second highest number of passes in the Premier League at 12,719 - that's more than Arsenal and table topping Chelsea. Only Manchester City have made more.
  • The average length of Manchester United's passing is 19 metres - the same as Chelsea and Liverpool. Manchester City and Arsenal play the shortest passes on average - at 17 metres, whilst Swansea and Spurs the next least on 18 metres.
  • When it comes to possession, Manchester United are the best in the Premier League with an average of 56 per cent this season. That figure is only matched by Manchester City.
  • Manchester United's passing is also incredibly accurate, with 85 per cent of attempted passes finding their target. Again, only Manchester City can boast a more impressive record.

When it comes to long balls, we've analysed the data to show how many short passes are made for every long pass - indicating which sides resort to hitting it long the most.


The table above indicates that 12 other teams resort to hitting long passes more often when in possession - leaving the accusation that Manchester United are a long ball team falling flat and thus proving Van Gaal right.