Today we take a look back at Louis van Gaal’s first season as manager of Manchester United. After LvG’s antics at the World Cup with Netherlands, every Man United fan was hopeful of a successful season. Alas, the trophies, the exciting football, the joy of seeing Man United- did not come.
All fans expected LvG to erect a stern defense and he did not disappoint on that point. The team conceded 37 goals in the entire season. Goalkeepers David de Gea kept an impressive 11 clean sheets and won the player of the year award. Valencia and Herrera had the most tackles per game at 2.9 and 2.6 respectively. All defenders tackled more than twice every game. Newly signed Daley Blind had the most interceptions per game- 3.3. Phil Jones, not known for his reading of the game also had 3.1 interceptions per game.
Fellaini won 4.1 aerial duels per game- a league high. He also scored a remarkable 7 goals and proved to be a rock in the midfield. There is also a dirty side to his game, committing 2.3 fouls a game and being dispossessed 1.6 times a game.
Man United- LvG Style!
LvG’s teams have always focused on passing and possession. Man United had an average possession of 61% along with 85.1% passing accuracy. The team passed the ball 560.2 times on an average per match! 90% of Carrick’s passes were accurate, while the figure was 89% for Mata, Herrera and Valencia. Blind had the most passes per game at 63 while Carrick was not far behind at 61.
Angel di Maria was brought on to spark some creativity into the team. He was successful in doing just that with 10 assists and 1.9 key passes per game. Juan Mata was not in his best form yet claimed 4 goals, 9 assists and had 1.5 key passes per game.
Expectations were high on van Persie and Falcao to score goals. RvP scored just 10 goals. Falcao scored 4 times and assisted 4 times as well. Both had an underwhelming season and left the club in the
summer transfer window.
Rooney yielded much better returns than his strike partners- scoring 12 goals and assisting 5. Herrera also impressed with 4 goals and 6 assists. Mata and di Maria also scored 5, 3 respectively.
Critics claimed United passed the ball backwards very often. This was rubbished by the stats. 29.3% passes were made in the forward direction while 16.5% passes were made in the backward direction.
Despite the massive possession, United scored just 62 goals all season. This boiled down to a goal every 55 minutes at a shot conversion rate of 16.8%. Out of 368 shots on goal, a credible 182 were on target. While there were just 136 successful crosses all season!
Coming to the negative stats, the team committed 453 fouls, got 64 yellow cards and 5 red cards! Herrera gathered 8 yellow cards, followed closely by Fellaini who managed to earn 7. The latter also committed a very high 2.3 fouls per game and also managed to be dispossessed 1.4 times a game. Fellaini’s partner in crime was RvP at 1.6 fouls per game Surprisingly, Rooney was dispossessed most often- 1.9 times each match. Falcao also lost the ball very often- 1.7 times each match!
Stats can often lie and many who saw the team play will not agree with the rosy picture that they seem to give; Yet LvG delivered his objective of the season and qualified for the Champions League. His next objective was to win the Premier League- and as we all know, that did not happen.