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Wenger jumps to Van Gaal's defence over 'long ball' furore

He does suggest that LVG did not need to go ‘full Rafa’ however.

Arsene Wenger has defended Manchester United's tactics against West Ham.
Arsene Wenger has defended Manchester United's tactics against West Ham.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

ARSENAL BOSS ARSENE Wenger says he does not understand the furore over claims that Louis van Gaal has introduced a long-ball style at Manchester United.

Sam Allardyce, the West Ham manager who has long been associated with direct football, wryly suggested after the Hammers’ 1-1 draw with the Red Devils a week ago that his men could not handle “long-ball United”.

The suggestion rankled with Van Gaal, who was sufficiently irked to provide journalists with a four-page print-out of statistics, which showed that the Londoners played more long passes directly to their forwards, whereas United’s were used to switch the play.

But Wenger says the Dutchman need not have responded at all because his team’s change in approach was merited.

“I didn’t understand what was the problem,” he told reporters.

“Manchester United went a bit ‘longer’ in the last 10 minutes: I found that completely logical. There’s no reason for him to defend himself.

“An intelligent team knows how to exploit its strong points. I don’t even think Van Gaal said to his team ‘go longer’.

“But when they saw [Marouane] Fellaini on the pitch the guys at the back say, ‘Ah, I’ll kick it to Fellaini and then Van Persie or Rooney can score the goal’. It’s normal.”

- Goal.com, Sam Lee

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