The worrying revelation behind United's playing style under Louis van Gaal

Louis Van Gaal

The latest statistics coming from Old Trafford are likely to worry the club's fans.

We are now 24 games into the 2014/15 Premier League season. Louis van Gaal has won 12 of his first 24 Premier League games in charge of Manchester United, the same number as David Moyes during his debut - and only - season in charge.

The comparisons will naturally be made with his predecessor's time at Old Trafford, especially considering the style of football hasn't been much of an improvement. Van Gaal may have steered the sinking ship to the relative safety of the top four, but performances remain far from what the Old Trafford faithful have come to expect over the years.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce made a mockery of the Red Devils' 'long-ball' tactics. The Hammers boss suggested their weekend opposition resorted to a "thump it forward and see" strategy to salvage a point at Upton Park, following Cheikhou Kouyate's sublime volley.

"In the end, we couldn't cope with the long balls Manchester United kept putting in the box," said Allardyce. "It was just, thump it forward and see what they could get. In the end, it paid off for them."

  MatchTotal PassesTotal Long BallsLong Ball Percentage (%)
Man Utd West Ham vs Man Utd 414 86 21

Upon review of the statistics from Sunday's draw at Upton Park, it becomes evident that long balls accounted for some 20% of the club's total passes. It is not often throughout his managerial career that we have witnessed Louis van Gaal resort to such desperate tactics. 

Van Gaal arrived in England with a reputation for playing attractive, short-passing football, but clearly he faced an immense struggle in terms of implementing his preferred style, which is shocking when you consider the abundance of talent at his disposal.

 Top Five Long Ball Teams Total Long BallsMatches Played
Burnley 1,875 24
Man Utd 1,861 24
QPR 1,840 24
West Brom 1,748 24
Leicester 1,719 24

Aside from Sean Dyche's struggling Burnley, Manchester United have played more long balls than any other Premier League side this season; a resounding statistic that'll surely shock the Old Trafford faithful. The displays have been blatantly poor for practically the entire campaign, but the empirical evidence takes the need for change to a new level.

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