Manchester United players were left ‘dismayed’ by tactics that left them exposed by Arsenal on Sunday, according to The Times.
The newspaper’s Northern Football Correspondent James Ducker has an excellent source among United’s senior players and claims the Dutchman ignored pleas to adopt the counter-attacking style that saw them win 2-1 at the Emirates in November.
Van Gaal instead instructed them to press high, forcing Bastian Scheinsteiger forward onto Santi Cazorla and leaving gaps in the midfield. Arsenal were 3-0 in 19 minutes.
As Daniel Storey wrote in 16 Conclusions:
‘United’s lack of midfield power was exacerbated by the instructions that were presumably given to Bastian Schweinsteiger, who pushed high up the pitch on Santi Cazorla. During the first half, Schweinsteiger’s average touch position was actually higher up the pitch than Wayne Rooney’s, leaving gaping holes in central midfield. Arsenal were only too happy to oblige.
‘“There’s just nobody there,” Neville said repeatedly on commentary, as if forlornly describing the home of a friend after a nine-hour car journey.’
The Times’ headline is ‘United stars baffled by Van Gaal’s Arsenal tactics’ and they also use the word ‘perplexed’ to describe their confusion at Van Gaal’s tactics.