Stats show Manchester United boss right to question approach

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal felt his side were too direct at Queens Park Rangers, and Opta statistics support the Dutchman's claims.

Louis van Gaal saw Manchester United take a 2-0 victory away from Loftus Road on Saturday, but admits they made life difficult for themselves.

Queens Park Rangers have been a formidable proposition on home soil this season, with it their form on the road that has them struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table.

Van Gaal concedes that Harry Redknapp’s men forced the Red Devils to adopt an approach which delivered little reward in the capital.

He has suggested that United were too direct for long periods.

The Dutchman is quoted as saying in the Manchester Evening News: “The main thing is we have played in the first half like Queens Park Rangers wanted. We did the same thing as Queens Park Rangers - play through the air. Long balls and then QPR are better at that.

"You have to play along the floor, the ground, and in spite the ground is not so good here you have to do it and in the second-half we changed the shape also and that helped us.”

The Opta statistics below back up Van Gaal’s claims, with United posting season-high numbers in the route one department.

  MatchTotal Long BallsAccurate Long Balls
Man Utd QPR vs Man Utd 106 55
Man Utd Burnley vs Man Utd 104 57
Man Utd Tottenham vs Man Utd 102 44
QPR QPR vs Man Utd 88 40

For a third time this season, the Red Devils hit triple figures in terms of long balls played.

It has been an option favoured by Van Gaal on a regular basis in 2014/15, and an approach which has helped them to turn the corner.

He will point to the fact that it has delivered positive results, but he is right to expect his side to play plenty of football as well - even when faced with an opponent determined to contain and frustrate ball-playing talent.

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