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At least Van Gaal is not as bad as Moyes

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Van Gaal struggling to get United firing
Van Gaal struggling to get United firing

Louis van Gaal's first season at Manchester United has been less than glorious so far, but it is not quite as bad as the campaign overseen by his predecessor David Moyes.

From a shocking Capital One Cup defeat against MK Dons back in August, Van Gaal has struggled to find a winning formula in a season when United's uninspiring style of play has attracted criticism aplenty.

However, this is not an entirely negative story for Van Gaal as the statistics confirm he is falling short of the standards United fans expect of their team, but at least they have moved forward a little from last season's nightmares.

It should firstly be remembered what a disaster last season was for United. At this stage in 2014 they had five fewer points, one less goal and had conceded five more.

The average of 1.68 points they won per game was the club's lowest since the Premier League began - closely followed by this season's current average of 1.89. The 39 goals they conceded was the highest since 43 were allowed in 2001/02.

At least David Moyes' team had the excuse of a Champions League campaign - for the first half of the season - and the expected hangover from Alex Ferguson's departure as manager.

If the attacking end of United's game has been a let down under Van Gaal, at least presided over some improvement in defence, where his sides have allowed over one shot fewer per game than last season - 10.5 compared to 11.8 - and are on course to concede seven fewer goals than the 43 they shipped in each of the previous two campaigns.

Even here though there is a caveat: United have allowed their opponents more shots from inside their own six yard box (28) than in any previous Premier League season since this data was first collected in 2001/02 and there are still 10 matches left to play.

Meanwhile shots from outside the box - which consistently made up over half of those faced by United under Ferguson in this period - now make up just 35 per cent, down significantly from the 46 per cent faced during Moyes' brief tenure.

Fewer shots from distance and more from close range implies that only goalkeeper David De Gea's brilliant season has spared his manager from further embarrassment in his uncertain first season at the Old Trafford helm.

Must do better? There is no doubt United need to improve in the final 10 games of the season, but this graphic suggests they have the toughest run in of all the teams chasing a top four finish in the Premier League.

Graphics from Press Association.