Belfast Telegraph

Paul Scholes puts the boot in to shot-shy Manchester United

Ex-Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has criticised Louis van Gaal's tactics at Old Trafford by suggesting he would have disliked playing under his risk-free regime.

The Red Devils crashed out of the Capital One Cup on penalties to Middlesbrough on Wednesday after failing to score past the Sky Bet Championship side in 120 minutes, despite turning to Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial off the bench.

It was the second straight home game in which United had failed to find the net after Sunday's stalemate with neighbours Manchester City and statistics show Van Gaal's side have accrued fewer shots than the likes of Norwich, Watford and Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League this term.

Scholes, a one-club man who won a plethora of trophies across three decades with United, believes the buck should stop with the manager.

"There's a lack of creativity and risk," he told BBC Radio Manchester.

"It's a team now you wouldn't want to play against because they're tightly organised. But it seems he (Van Gaal) doesn't want players to beat men and it's probably not a team I'd have enjoyed playing in."

Much of the flak for United's attacking shortcomings has been directed at captain Rooney, who saw his penalty saved in the shoot-out against Boro.

However, Scholes believes it is the system, rather than the man preferred as the fulcrum of the attack, that is flawed.

"The hardest thing to coach is scoring goals and creativity," the 40-year-old added.

"I was at the derby on Sunday and Rooney's movement was brilliant, but when he's playing in that team there's no one prepared to pass to him. I think after 20 minutes you'd be tearing you hair out.

"I played with some brilliant centre forwards and I don't think they could play in this team - the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham. You don't get crosses into the box or midfielders looking for runs."

Rooney's saved effort in the penalty shoot-out with Boro came after television images showed a laser directed at his face in the moments before he began his run up.

The Football Association confirmed on Thursday that they would investigate that matter which occurred in front of the end where 10,000 travelling Boro supporters were housed.

United are back in Premier League action this weekend when they travel to Crystal Palace and Van Gaal has urged them to swiftly move on from their Capital One Cup disappointment.

"In sport there is not only winning, you lose also," he stressed.

"You have to lift yourself. Players at Manchester United have to know which tools you can use. It's disappointing, it's also disappointing for me.

"But tomorrow is another day and the day after tomorrow is already more in preparation of Crystal Palace."


From Belfast Telegraph