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Man United boss Louis van Gaal hits back at Sam Allardyce over tactics

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal rejected allegations that his side are a "long-ball" team by presenting a personalised dossier to support his position.

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has defended his tactics in the face of criticism from West Ham boss Sam Allardyce.

Hammers manager Allardyce complained about United's "long-ball" approach during the 1-1 draw on Sunday.

But in a news conference to preview United's home with Burnley on Wednesday, Van Gaal produced a four-page dossier defending his approach to the game at Upton Park.

It was a moment reminiscent of Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez's notorious "facts" rant aimed at United manager Sir Alex Ferguson in January 2009.

Van Gaal insisted he is playing possession football by aiming long passes and said his side had the ball for almost 60 percent of the game.

Diagrams in the pamphlet claim to show United's passes went sideways or diagonally, rather than forward. The Press Association tweeted out an image from the Dutch coach's dossier:

Van Gaal read out statistics showing West Ham had played 34 long and forward passes at Upton Park as he refuted Allardyce's claims. The pamphlet said 71.1 percent of West Ham's "long passes" -- of over 25 metres - went forward whereas United's percentage was just 49.9 percent.

And Van Gaal insisted his team only started launching balls forward after 6-foot-4 Marouane Fellaini came on in the 76th minute of the draw in east London.



West Ham attempted 200 passes, according to the figures, and United 343.

"Because I expected this question, I have made an interpretation of the data for this game and then I have to say that it is not a good interpretation from Big Sam," Van Gaal said.

"When you have 60 percent ball possession, do you think that you can do that with long balls? Yeah, long balls, in the width, to switch the play. You have to look at the data and then you will see that we did play long balls, but long balls wide, rather than to the striker.

"A ball to the forward striker is mainly caused long-ball play. It is not so difficult also to read that. I am sorry, but we are playing ball possession play and after 70 minutes we did not succeed, in spite of many chances in the second half, then I changed my playing style.

"Then, of course, with the quality of Fellaini we played more forward balls and we scored from that, so I think it was a very good decision of the manager. But, when you see overall the long ball, and what is the percentage of that, then West Ham have played 71 percent of the long balls to the forwards and we 49."

After reeling off the statistics, Van Gaal rose from his chair and handed the pamphlet to the reporter who asked the question about Allardyce. The United boss asked the journalist to analyse the last three pages, which contained diagrams that contained coloured arrows pointing in the direction of both team's passes.

"I give you this and you can see that the blue ones are the good ones because long balls are also very difficult, which is why I began with the explanation of ball possession," the 63-year-old said.

"When you have 60 percent ball possession you cannot play long balls. So again, they did it 71 (percent) and we 49, and I give it to you, you can copy it and then maybe you can go to Big Sam and he will get a good interpretation."

Against Burnley, United will be without Michael Carrick, who is still sidelined by a calf injury, and Luke Shaw, who is suspended after being sent off at West Ham.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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