Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has reminded his strikers about their lack of goals in recent weeks ahead of their trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Saturday (31 October). The Red Devils have failed to score in their previous two outings in the Premier League. He feels that the mental pressure to score on a consistent basis could be holding them back from playing their natural game.
Wayne Rooney has come under criticism for his poor form in front of goal, which has seen him score just two goals in nine league appearances. The Red Devils boss feels that with the number of touches his forwards are having during a game, they should be scoring on a regular basis, as he believes that a forward needs just nine touches to score in a game. The Three Lions skipper had a staggering 44 touches during the Manchester Derby that ended goalless.
"I was manager of Bayern and the striker there was Mario Gomez, and he touched the ball nine times on average in a game," Van Gaal is quoted as saying by the Mirror. "The highest was 14 balls, but he scored every game and I don't think that our strikers touch the ball less."
"It's how the balls are coming to him, how he decides, how quick he is in dealing with the situation," he added. "Maybe he [Rooney] is doing too much. You never know, as a manager but also as a player, how you can improve your shape or your finishing," the Dutch manager explained.
The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona manager believes that the lack of goals affects the player mentally as the pressure builds. The strikers are under constant scrutiny when they fail to find the back of the net on a consistent basis and Van Gaal feels that this makes it harder despite his players training hard and focusing on their goal scoring form.
"I try to influence it, and the player tries to influence it, but it can be too hard, then your mental state is also a little bit less. Then that has an influence on everything. That is the most difficult piece as a manager, but also as a player, to cope with that.
"Players are human beings and they want to score goals, but they maybe want it too much and then maybe the chances are not so good. But then you have to cope with that pressure. It's not only a case of training, but also of coping with the pressure at the time. It's the same with the penalties. It's also dependent on your mental state, which is why in my philosophy it is about the total human being principle," Van Gaal concluded.