Playing spectacular football is all well and good but Manchester United must find the right balance in both areas of the pitch if they want to be successful this season, manager Louis van Gaal said on Friday.
After winning their last two Premier League matches against West Ham and Everton, United have risen to fourth in the table with 11 points from seven matches.
But despite showing plenty of attacking flair in their recent resurgence, United's defensive frailties have been all too evident this season, and Dutchman Van Gaal wants to see a more rounded performance against West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
"We need more balance, I said that after the Everton match. I'm looking for balance in the team, not just spectacular attacking football," Van Gaal told a news conference.
"When you lose the ball, you must have a shape as a team and then you can defend more easily. You can kill the game better.
"I don't think that we are in balance now. I am sorry to say that, but it is the truth. We are moving forward in training sessions, though, and evaluating those sessions. I hope that we shall improve."
Manchester United injury list
Manchester United injury list
1/5 Wayne Rooney
There is uncertainty over the extent of the Manchester United captain's injury, with fears he may have suffered ligament damage to his knee during the 3-0 defeat to Everton. Unlikely to feature against West Brom and could miss the rest of the season.
2/5 Michael Carrick
Having limped off in the 4-2 derby victory over Manchester City, it's uncertain if the England midfielder will fit for this weekend. Was unable to even make the bench for the defeat to Everton.
The right-back's return to action has suffered a set-back. After making a short appearance in the 3-0 win over Tottenham in March, the Brazilian has been pushing for full fitness. However he suffered a blow to the ribs in an Under-21 match against Leicester and could miss the rest of the season.
4/5 Marcos Rojo
Having missed the games against Chelsea and Everton due to a groin injury, the Argentina international is pushing for a return and could feature this weekend.
5/5 Phil Jones
Fellow defender Phil Jones also missed the defeats to Chelsea and Evertton but the England international has returned to training after a foot complaint and could play at against West Brom.
Captain Wayne Rooney is still suspended after being sent off against West Ham, but the injury crisis which Van Gaal labelled as the worst of his managerial career appears to be easing.
England defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have both returned to full training during the international break, while midfielder Michael Carrick is also nearing a return after an ankle injury.
"This morning (Friday), we didn't need any players from the second team and that is a plus," Van Gaal said. "I am very happy because there are no injuries from the international games."
Van Gaal will be desperate to settle his side, having used 30 different players in the league already this season -- more than any other club.
Rooney will be a big absence: the striker has scored in his last six Premier League starts against the Baggies.
Fourteenth-placed West Brom have made a steady start under new manager Alan Irvine and Van Gaal is expecting a tough examination at The Hawthorns.
"West Brom are very difficult to beat, especially there, in their home," he said. "They play not only long balls but they also play a positional game.
"We have to start with a victory after the international break."
While the omens are not fantastic for United -- they have won only one of their last five Premier League matches played on a Monday -- they are dire for West Brom. The Baggies have won only two of their previous 18 Premier League matches played on a Monday.Reuse content