Goal drought has to end, orders Van Gaal

United boss indecisive on Rooney, Martial; denies mental issue led to drawn games

LONDON • Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has admitted that he still does not know Anthony Martial's best position while Wayne Rooney endured another frustrating afternoon in United's 0-0 Premier League draw at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

It was the third successive game in which United played out a goalless draw. And van Gaal warned his side must end their drought against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League tomorrow.

United's last goal came against the Russian outfit on Oct 21, and the Dutchman denied that a mental issue was preventing his stars from scoring.

  • DRY SPELL

  • Jan '05

    Manchester United have played out three consecutive goalless draws for the first time since January 2005.

    325min

    Louis van Gaal's men have not scored in 325 minutes.

"I cannot see that. When I see their characters, I don't think they have doubts about that quality," he said. "It can change in one match - let that be CSKA, because we need victory."

He started Rooney, stuck on two league goals this term, in the central striker role at Selhurst Park, with Martial operating on the left.

Rooney had just one clear chance to score and van Gaal switched the two players in the second half.

The 19-year-old Frenchman's better pace and mobility offered more of an attacking threat, but van Gaal conceded he still remains uncertain how best to utilise Martial.

"We don't know yet. He always played as a left winger at Monaco," said the manager.

"I have to see what is the best balance in the team and that's not so simple. I have to decide every week, depending on the game plan and the opponents.

"We have played with him in the striker position. It wasn't the first time for him but in Monaco, he played almost always on the left."

United's supporters chanted for the team to attack, after a week in which van Gaal's tactics were criticised as being unadventurous by former United player Paul Scholes.

But the Dutchman said: "The right of the fans is always there. It was the first time, apart from Arsenal we were not the better team away. They can sing that but the next game they shall sing in another way."

Palace manager Alan Pardew agreed United are playing in a different way this season and that they lacked attacking threat.

"It's a different style under van Gaal, it's a very patient style. Incision is where they're lacking at the moment," he said.

"United - and it doesn't happen very often - were probably fortunate to get a point."

Palace had the best chance to win the game when midfielder Yohan Cabaye turned a shot wide from six metres out after a cross from Joel Ward in the 74th minute.

In the first half, forward Yannick Bolasie struck the bar for the hosts.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline 'Goal drought has to end, orders Van Gaal'. Print Edition | Subscribe