While Manchester United fans are grumbling about their manager’s 3-5-2 formation, the boss himself is critical of officiating in the Red Devils scoreless draw against Burnley at Turf Moor.
While van Gaal wasn’t drawn into dissecting the two non-penalty calls karmically-denied to Ashley Young, the manager wondered aloud how his team could dominate a half but win less free kicks than his newly-promoted opponents.
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“We had more possession of the ball than Burnley but more free-kicks were awarded against us than in favour of us,” van Gaal said. “I think that is remarkable.”
Moreover, the manager was concerned about his club’s play in the first half when, aside from some brilliant moments from new boy Angel Di Maria, his club looked like fish out of water.
While the Red Devils did find plenty of promise in the second half, no one scored. Robin van Persie looked slow, Wayne Rooney missed a close header, and Juan Mata was nearly invisible.
“We played much better in the second half and created more chances. But you have to score from those chances, and we didn’t do that. It’s a disappointing result.”
“I don’t think our confidence level was very high in the first half. But I think that’s normal when a club like United loses the first match and draws the second one. The pressure is higher and you have to cope with that. I could see in the first half that the players were very nervous to play the ball. We restored that in the second half, and maybe that will raise our confidence.”
Van Gaal knows he was without the majority of his reinforcements. Marcos Rojo has not had his work permit cleared, and Daley Blind has yet to agree to personal terms. Di Maria was unable to go the full 90 minutes, while Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera were not available.
Things will eventually be fine for United, but this slow start could cost them dearly late in the season as LVG mounts a rush for European qualification.