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Richard Jolly profile picture Posted by Richard Jolly
Aug 31, 2014

Juan Mata laments too many long balls by Manchester United

ESPN FC's Craig Burley analyses United's away draw against Burnley and City's loss at home at the hands of Stoke City.

Juan Mata has complained that Manchester United played too much long-ball football in their 0-0 draw at Burnley.

- Brewin: Van Gaal sticks to his beliefs

The Spaniard formed part of a new-look attacking quartet with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and record signing Angel Di Maria -- who made his debut at Turf Moor -- but Louis van Gaal's side still failed to score.

And the former Chelsea player said he believed the direct tactics employed did not bring the best out of United's flair players.

He told MUTV: "I think we were on top in the last 20 minutes of the game, but didn't score. We played most of the time in their half which is good but, if you don't score from these chances, then it's not good enough.

"I believe that, when we try to play football in the last third, we can create -- but we played too many long balls in the first half, which is maybe why we didn't play as well."

According to WhoScored.com statistics, defender Tyler Blackett attempted 20 long balls, finding a teammate on only nine occasions, while centre-back Jonny Evans succeeded with only three of his nine long passes.

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And Mata added: "If you see the players that we have, we can play good football. It's just a matter of keeping working, believing and being patient when building from the back."

Evans, who made his first league appearance of the season, said to MUTV: "I think the way the system sets us up, the biggest thing is that we have to be more patient going forward, and we need to know when the right time is to give the ball back to the goalkeeper.

"They were able to close down David [De Gea] a lot today, as well as me and Tyler in the wide areas, so I think it's a learning curve for us."

United kept their first clean sheet under Van Gaal, who has switched to a 3-4-1-2 formation, and Evans said: "The most important thing was that we didn't concede. The manager keeps telling us to be patient in our build-up play and to use our brains a bit more.

"It's easy to get sucked into a battle, and I think he wants us to take the sting out of the game. After three games, we don't want to panic -- but the most important thing is to start winning games."

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