Manchester United can’t be shackled, says boss Louis van Gaal after hard-fought West Brom win
The Red Devils were not at their best in patient 2-0 win over the Baggies
Louis van Gaal claims Manchester United will not be shackled at Old Trafford after they kept their patience to grind out a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Van Gaal’s side have found goals hard to come by of late and they initially found it difficult to break down an Albion team that defended in numbers.
But Albion’s plan was shattered seven minutes into the second half on Saturday when Jesse Lingard scored his first United goal to break the deadlock.
Juan Mata wrapped up the points for United with a stoppage-time penalty after defender Gareth McAuley had been sent off for bringing down Anthony Martial.
And van Gaal insisted United’s victory, which followed a 1-0 midweek success against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, may change how opposition managers view trips to Old Trafford.
“We have to attack better against these defensive organisations but it is the most difficult way you can play as a team,” van Gaal said.
“But it is good we have won because the next manager shall not choose so easily this strategy.
“We have also won against CSKA Moscow and they have the same strategy. It is good we send a signal that you can do that but you lose.
“We have won a very difficult game. Last year we lost against this opponent and probably because of that Tony Pulis chooses this strategy again. Now we have won and so we are improving.”
United have still scored just once from open play in their last four domestic fixtures and there remains a question mark about their attacking intent, a short-coming recently criticised by former United midfielder Paul Scholes.
And van Gaal concedes United’s attacking play must be fine-tuned if they are to overhaul Manchester City and Arsenal, who are both a point ahead of the Old Trafford outfit before they both play on Sunday.
There was signs of frustration amongst the home supporters before Lingard broke the deadlock against West Brom, who missed a great chance to make it 1-1 in the 74th minute when substitute Saido Berahino headed wide from close-range.
But van Gaal, who had asked the supporters to direct any anger at him, had no complaints.
“I am always pleased with the crowd. I was also pleased with how they reacted against CSKA Moscow because you have to accept fans have their own opinion,” he said.
“But I think they were very influenced by Paul Scholes and all the criticism and what the media has written about that. But then you to have analyse the game.
“When you are yelling ‘attack, attack, attack’ and you attack for 85 minutes, you have to think as a fan; ‘is it alright to yell?’ “They know they have to score. My mother knows that and my grandmother knows that.”
Lingard’s first goal for the club was perfectly timed on his first start in the Premier League since van Gaal’s first game in charge in August 2014.
A knee injury sustained in that game set back the 22-year-old midfielder, who was then loaned out to Derby County at the end of last season.
West Brom’s defeat was only their second away from home this season as boss Tony Pulis was left to rue the missed chance for Berahino.
“If you need a chance – a gilt-edged chance – to drop to anyone it would be Saido but he missed the chance that would have got us something out of the game,” said Pulis.
“I am really disappointed for the players. They worked really hard and kept their discipline, shape and togetherness really well.
“But when you play against top, top players and you give them a chance they will punish you.”