Respected pundits, including Gary Neville and Ruud Gullit, have questioned why Van Gaal did not spend more of his budget on his backline this summer – and a quick glance at the goals conceded column shows why. After six matches, Crystal Palace are the only side in the top 11 with a worse record than Van Gaal’s men, who have conceded nine goals in six games.
Van Gaal insists the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Tyler Blackett are not to blame though. The United manager says his team have conceded so many goals because they have been giving away possession further up the field and he wants to see that eradicated in the near future. “We have conceded too many goals,” Van Gaal said ahead of Sunday’s game against Everton. “Everyone is writing it’s because of the weak defence, but no. Our problem is that we lose the ball so easily. And I want that to improve. “I want my defensive organisation (to be) better but the defence begins in the striker’s position. “All the teams are mostly scoring goals out of counter-attacks against us and free-kicks and corners but not that they make their goals like we do out of building play up.” Van Gaal has also told his star players they must track back more to protect their back four. “We have a lot of creative players and they need more discipline,” he said. “So we are looking for a balance in attacking football without thinking too much about only attacking but also guarding your defence.” Paddy McNair put in arguably the best defensive performance of the season on his debut last weekend in the 2-1 win over West Ham. Van Gaal confirmed the 19-year-old will retain his place in the team for Sunday’s game against Roberto Martinez’s side. ‘We still have three central defenders injured so he (McNair) shall play,” Van Gaal said. “He is the only player who can play in the right-sided defensive position. “I chose him last week and he played very good. It’s difficult for a player like him to maintain that level – that is his biggest challenge.” Read more about Manchester United.