Van Gaal spells out possession plan
Louis van Gaal feels his Manchester United players need better ball retention in order to take a big step forward - even if that sometimes means passing it back to David De Gea.
There was unease in some sections of the Old Trafford crowd during Saturday's win over Sunderland when, following a corner taken by the Reds, the ball swiftly ended up at De Gea's feet from a long pass by Jonny Evans. The boss has some sympathy with the supporters who were disgruntled by that but insists his outfield men will sometimes be right to utilise the goalkeeper as an outlet.
"I agree with the fans that we don't have to use the goalkeeper so much, but the goalkeeper is the 11th player for us," said van Gaal, speaking ahead of Wednesday's clash with Newcastle.
"He can accelerate our game and sometimes the solution to play forward is via De Gea. That [can sometimes provide] a higher tempo than playing the ball to the player next to you."
De Gea's first JOB is, of course, to stop the opposition from scoring and van Gaal feels the rest of his team can help him with that objective by not giving the ball away as often.
"What I think we can still improve is [reducing] our unnecessary ball losses, because our opponent is not capable, normally, to score when there are long [periods of] ball possession against [them]," stated van Gaal. "When we can avoid too many ball losses unnecessarily, we can make a big step."
Van Gaal wants all of his charges to be capable on the ball, of course, but he accepts that different personalities mean different approaches to this fundamental aspect of being a Manchester United player.
"Every player is at a different height of pressure and every player has to MANAGE that pressure," the Dutchman explained.
"Maybe six or seven players are always playing arrogantly and they need to be arrogant to play well while maybe another player has to be tense to play well.
"[Would you like to see more arrogance?] No, because I respect always the personality of the player. I shall never change the personality of the player. I don't want that because we have to accept our identities. We have 25 identities in our squad and I respect all of them. I also respect them because of their talent as a football player. Nevertheless, they all have to fit into the team philosophy and the game plan, independent of their talents or their identity. Everybody has to do that."