Football: United system still giving Van Gaal a headache

Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal reacts before their FA Cup fourth round soccer match against Cambridge United at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England Feb 3, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal reacts before their FA Cup fourth round soccer match against Cambridge United at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England Feb 3, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Louis van Gaal came under fresh attack on Friday over his style of play at Manchester United and acknowledged he was still struggling to come up with a preferred system.

Former England midfielder Paul Scholes labelled recent performances under the Dutch manager as "miserable" and questioned whether he was prepared to play risky, attacking football.

Van Gaal, who this week produced written charts to try and disprove West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce's suggestion that United were playing long-ball football, told a news conference he was not worried by the comments of former players like Scholes.

However, he said he was still grappling with the right balance for a side that contains some of the world's best attacking talents in Angel Di Maria, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao.

"I have already played five or six systems and I am looking still for the balance," said Van Gaal whose side are in FA Cup fifth-round action against third tier Preston North End on Monday.

"In spite of the fact we are looking for the balance, our results are not bad and our defensive organisation is not bad. We also score a lot of goals so I cannot say I am very disappointed about that."

With United third in the Premier League, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea, a title challenge is unlikely but the FA Cup offers Van Gaal a chance to mark his first season with a trophy.

After labouring against fourth tier Cambridge United in the fourth round though, he is taking nothing for granted.

"It is fantastic. I have already described, we have to play for the third time a lower team," he said.

"You know the world is against you, the environment is against you because everyone is with the underdog. But the chance that you can survive is higher because you are playing against lower qualities."

Van Gaal is waiting on fitness doubts Phil Jones, Daley Blind and Robin van Persie ahead of Monday's clash.

Jones limped off with a knee problem during the 3-1 win over Burnley on Wednesday while Blind suffered a blow to his head.