Despite qualifying for the Champions League this was a very up and down season for Manchester United. It started with the question over whether Louis van Gaal had actually improved the side from David Moyes’ time, and what those changes were, before all the fuss over long balls and then finally the obsession with possession and its ultimate purpose. So, how did it end up? The team certainly got attuned to Van Gaal’s idea of possession, with that shooting up from 56% under Alex Ferguson to 61.1%, which was the highest in the Premier League.
They did remain much more comfortable with hitting it long, though, as the 79 long balls were the third highest in the division, only just behind two relegated teams: Burnley and QPR. It does feel as if, for all that Van Gaal has implemented his philosophy, it still needs more of that cutting edge and technical lift, as opposed to a lift in terms of how high they play the ball when desperate, that was seen in the magnificent run that saw wins against Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City.