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LVG’s philosophy lost in translation

Manchester-United-vs-Southampton-All-the-action-from-Old-Trafford (2)Lou Macari and Ron Atkinson have criticised Manchester United’s performance against Southampton on Sunday, claiming that Louis Van Gaal must ensure his philosophy translates to results on the pitch.

Despite having an almost fully-fit squad for the first time in months, United conjured to deliver arguably their worst performance of the season, failing to register a single shot on goal as Southampton ran out deserved winner, after Dusan Tadic made the most of some typically catastrophic defending.

The comparison with David Moyes’ tenure are all the rage in the press, as United have exactly the same number of points they had at this stage last season but, crucially, have spent £120m more this summer than they did in 2013. Van Gaal had claimed that it would take his three months to instil his philosophy into his players, but Macari believes the Dutchman’s instruction have been lost in translation and that his decision making – namely leaving Radamel Falcao out of the squad on Sunday – could be heavily scrutinised too.

“I couldn’t believe what I was watching at times because we had no shots on target,” said Macari.

“We had all the injured players back, a week’s rest – which we talk about a lot in football nowadays – after playing a number of games in a short period of time, and I thought with all those three things going in our favour we must have a decent show at Old Trafford.

“It was a poor performance. It never really got going and I can’t understand why. And to see no shots on target at Old Trafford is something that hasn’t happened for a long, long time.

“I was thinking after City dropped two points that this was a great opportunity to close the gap a little bit and put a little bit more pressure on them. But after that result against Southampton, a top four place is probably the best we can hope for.”

The former United striker was also critical of Van Gaal’s decision to deploy Angel Di Maria alongside Robin Van Persie up-front, claiming the Argentine is at his best when given freedom to roam around the pitch.

“I don’t think playing up front is the position for Di Maria,” said Macari. “He’s better roaming all over the place. He likes a bit of freedom. He won’t like big centre-halves in behind him.

“So I wouldn’t like to see Di Maria play in any other position than where he has played [roaming] or out wide as an old fashioned left-winger.”

Meanwhile, Big Ron Atkinson, who was at Old Trafford on Sunday, has also criticised United’s approach to games, claiming Van Gaal’s emphasis to dominate possession means his team’s attacking weapons are easily blunted.

“When Van Gaal talks about dominating the game, I think what they did was dominate possession,” said Atkinson. “But it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a home game and never got the feeling there was a goal coming.

“Even when they played Chelsea here, even late in the game, you felt they might nick an equaliser, and they did. But there wasn’t that punch, there wasn’t that drive.”

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