Belfast Telegraph

Blind pleads with fans for patience

Daley Blind has told Manchester United fans they must keep faith with Louis van Gaal.

Although United are fourth in the Barclays Premier League, they have not provided their supporters with the thrilling expansive play they became accustomed to under Sir Alex Ferguson.

During last Saturday's 2-0 win at QPR, fans started questioning Van Gaal's tactics and demanded he ditch the 3-5-2 system which some feel makes United too slow and predictable.

Blind is familiar with such criticism. He was part of the unfancied Dutch team that finished third in the World Cup despite playing with three defenders at the back.

The midfielder thinks United's star players will begin to excel once they get to grips with the new system and he feels there is no better man to lead United than Van Gaal.

"He makes players better and he makes teams better. I like that in a coach. That is his most important asset," the former Ajax man said.

"It was the same when I was with him with Holland. He wanted to make the team better. As the team gets better, individuals started standing out as well.

"We didn't play very great football at the World Cup but we were a team and we were winning games, and we started playing better after winning.

"You change the system and you get better, you become a team and you start winning.

"If you have played another system for a long time, you have to get used to a new one but that isn't a problem.

"We knew it was going to be difficult in the Premier League but we have to keep our heads up. We have to keep faith."

Gary Neville singled Blind out as one of the reasons why United's tempo has at times been slow this year.

The former United captain accused the 24-year-old of playing it too safe at Old Trafford.

"He [Blind] has got to start looking up more and playing forward, he plays far too many square passes and takes the easy option," Neville said two months ago.

Blind is happy to accept Neville's critique of him but will not change his game just because the ex-England defender says he should.

"I can take a bit of criticism. The people on television can say what they want," Blind said.

"You hear it but I think I have played some good games.

"Of course you can sometimes play the ball forward but sometimes it is good to keep the ball in possession and make your team-mates play better.

"I can make other players more important than myself. If I can do that by switching the play to the other side or wait for the right moment to do that then I will.

"If there is space forward then I will play that ball but sometimes I think it is better to keep possession, to switch from side to side and move the ball, and search for players who can make an individual action.

"Of course, I listen to him (Gary Neville) but I try to play my own game and do what the trainer wants from me, and that is to keep possession."

Blind, now fully fit after recovering from a knee injury, is hoping to get his first taste of FA Cup football on Friday when United travel to Cambridge for their fourth round tie.

There may be six new foreign signings in the United squad this year, but they are all well aware of the significance of the FA Cup, Blind says.

"It is nice to get a new experience like this. I have read about United and the history and also picked up on things from the people around," Blind said.

"I know United haven't won the cup for 11 years and if you are in the race for a title or a cup then you want to be the champion.

"Everybody wants to play at Wembley."

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