Football: Defence wins championships, says United's Herrera amid lack of goals

Midfielder Ander Herrera believes Manchester United's defensive solidity more than makes up for a lack of creativity.
Midfielder Ander Herrera believes Manchester United's defensive solidity more than makes up for a lack of creativity.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Midfielder Ander Herrera believes Manchester United's defensive solidity more than makes up for a lack of creativity but is unlikely to have pleased fans by comparing his team to last season's English football title winners Chelsea.

United, who are fourth in the Premier League, have scored 15 times in 11 games, 11 goals fewer than leaders Manchester City.

While United kept their fifth clean sheet in six games in Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League win over CSKA Moscow, Wayne Rooney's winner was the first goal they had scored in 404 minutes of football.

Manager Louis van Gaal's side have the joint-stingiest defence in the top flight this season, having conceded just eight goals so far, the same as second-placed Arsenal.

Herrera said great seasons were built on solid foundations and cited Chelsea's romp to the title last season when they conceded 32 goals and kept 17 clean sheets, scoring 10 fewer goals than runners-up Manchester City's 83.

"It's a positive that we're not conceding goals. We saw it last year with Chelsea. I don't think they scored too many goals, but they didn't concede many either," he told his club's website (www.manutd.com). "That's important when you want to have a great season, you can't give away many chances," said the Spaniard.

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes has been one of the most strident critics of van Gaal's team, but midfielder Michael Carrick gave suggestions that his side were "boring" the brush off.

"There are so many opinions out there. If you start worrying about what people are saying about you on television or in the papers then you are in trouble," the England international was quoted as saying by the British media.

"For me, what he (Scholes) said doesn't bother me. I have respect for Scholesy and that isn't going to change.

"There's nothing wrong with those comments. You have to take the rough with the smooth and if you accept the pats on the back then you have to accept the criticism when it comes."

Fans made their feelings about United's tactics loud and clear on Tuesday, jeering van Gaal's decision to substitute forward Anthony Martial and bring on midfielder Marouane Fellaini after 65 minutes.

The Dutchman said after the game he was fully aware of the reaction but maintained his decision had proved correct after Rooney grabbed the winner 15 minutes later.

United are four points behind City and Arsenal in the league and host 12th-placed West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.