Man United jeered off after 0-0 draw against West Ham
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — It’s becoming a familiar soundtrack at Old Trafford these days: Second-half cries of “attack, attack, attack,” followed by a chorus of boos at the final whistle.
And Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is getting tired of it.
United was held to a fifth 0-0 draw in its last nine matches in Saturday’s stalemate against West Ham in the English Premier League. The fearless, attacking football for which the team was known under Alex Ferguson has long disappeared.
“We have to pass over this period,” Van Gaal said. “It is too long we didn’t score. Otherwise we would be top of the league.”
As it is, United is in fourth place but still only three points off surprise leader Leicester. That proximity to the top of the standings is the only thing stopping more sustained criticism of Van Gaal and his playing style.
A flurry of late chances against West Ham can’t disguise the problems United is having up front under Van Gaal, who was missing captain Wayne Rooney to compound a self-imposed shortage of strikers.
Van Gaal blamed United’s failure to score on a lack of both composure and luck, but said he won’t be changing the team’s possession-based style of play.
“I don’t understand that they (the fans) are shouting, ‘Attack, attack, attack,’ because we are the attacking team and not West Ham. That’s not only today, it’s in every game,” Van Gaal said.
“We are always more dominating than the opponent. When you have a lot of ball possession, you have it to create chances, not to play the ball around to not score.”
West Ham, injury-hit and without a clean sheet in its previous nine games, struck the post twice in the space of three minutes in the first half, first through Mauro Zarate — from a ricochet off his face — and then Winston Reid’s header.
The Hammers also wasted great one-on-one chances through Victor Moses and Zarate before absorbing lots of pressure in the final half-hour. Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard all squandered chances for United, which was denied by a mixture of fine goalkeeping from Adrian and wayward finishing.
“You can’t say it was a boring 0-0,” West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said.
Holding midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin limped off in the first half in another injury concern for United ahead of what could be a must-win game at Wolfsburg on Tuesday to advance in the Champions League.
But that won’t be United’s biggest worry.
Ferguson didn’t see his team play a goalless draw in his final 116 matches at the helm. Under Van Gaal, it’s becoming the norm.
Some United fans have been calling for Rooney to be dropped because of his underwhelming form, and they got their wish after the captain was ruled out Friday with an ankle injury.
It didn’t result in an injection of pace and penetration, though, as the tall Fellaini was deployed as the second striker. United’s buildup play was as one-paced as usual.
Van Gaal was asked if United needed a player of the caliber of Luis Suarez or Sergio Aguero to finish off the chances the team is creating.
“When you see (this game), now you can say that,” Van Gaal said. “But the question, ‘Shall Suarez score here, shall Aguero score here’ is also a question mark. You never know ... I think they would.”