Football News

Man Utd must change their style to become “dominant” in Europe – Van Gaal

By Ben Green

Published: 19:55, 21 April 2019 | Updated: 22:20, 20 September 2022

Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has taken another swipe at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s style of play.

The Norwegian coach was given the full-time reins at Old Trafford last month following an extremely positive start to his interim tenure, but results have dipped since then.

What is Solskjaer’s style? Five key things to know…

  1. Solskjaer was appointed in December following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho and immediately transformed the club’s fortunes.
  2. He has masterminded victories over PSG in the Champions League, Arsenal and Chelsea in the FA Cup, as well as Spurs in the league.
  3. Despite positive results, the Norwegian has forged a reputation for his counter-attacking style of play.
  4. Against PSG, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs, United’s goal came from their quick transitional play from defence to attack.
  5. As such, Van Gaal believes the club have adopted a park the bus mentality under their current tactician.

The Red Devils have lost six of their previous eight matches across all competitions, with their latest 4-0 capitulation against Everton causing a huge sense of unease among the United faithful.

They have struggled to dominate games under Solskjaer, instead relying on the pace and penetration of their attacking outlets, and as a result, Van Gaal believes the 46-year-old has to change his tactical approach to make the club a European powerhouse again.

“If Man United want to be a dominant force in Europe again – and in England – they have to have a different playing style,” he said (via Goal).

“The problem as a foreign manager is that you find out that the English football culture is different from Germany and Spain. In those countries, you work on things in training. In England, everything is done by playing matches.

“They get fitter or gain stamina by playing lots of matches. It is a culture you cannot change easily. I wanted to change things, but it proved very difficult.”

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“Solskjaer is more defensive than you think”

Solskjaer has overseen some sensational results since taking his position in the dugout, but Van Gaal has criticised those victories as “anti-football”, suggesting the current United coach is not too dissimilar, in style of play, to his predecessor.

He added: “I can see how Ole had some impact in the beginning, because United were ninth in the table when he took over and the team was nothing. United had been playing anti-football, as I call it, but don’t think that Ole isn’t afraid to park the bus either — he is more defensive than you think.

“I have been watching the team, because I always look at United still, and Ole parked the bus against Arsenal. He did it against Tottenham in the league. And at stages against Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona in the Champions League.

“He plays against all the big teams like that. The emphasis is more on defending than on attacking or wanting to play dominant football. I actually call it parking the bus. Ole does it not just outside the 18-yard box. He parks the bus right in front of [goalkeeper] David de Gea.”