Midweek football means Tuesday press conferences, and it seems that Louis van Gaal has been slightly riled by recent criticism over Manchester United's playing style. In particular, Sam Allardyce's "long ball" snark appears to have got to him somewhat:
When a colleague of mine is saying this kind of thing then, yeah, you have to see the data and you have to put the data in the right context I believe. When you have sixty per cent 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.
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. 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% of the long balls to the forwards and we 49 per cent.
I give it you (the Prozone data), you can copy it and then maybe you can go to Big Sam and he will get a good interpretation.
While the idea of a collection of journalists dutifully handing over some crumpled sheets to Allardyce is an amusing one -- and the revelation that Van Gaal calls him "Big Sam" is simply delightful -- we're not sure that this kind of things ever ends well.
In fact, it vaguely reminds us of somebody ...
Now, watch United blow this title race.