first_img Van Gaal insists the likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Tyler Blackett are not to blame though. The United manager says his team have conceded so many goals because they have been giving away possession further up the field and he wants to see that eradicated in the near future. “We have conceded too many goals,” Van Gaal said ahead of Sunday’s game against Everton. “Everyone is writing it’s because of the weak defence, but no. “Our problem is that we lose the ball so easily. And I want that to improve. “I want my defensive organisation (to be) better but the defence begins in the striker’s position. “All the teams are mostly scoring goals out of counter-attacks against us and free-kicks and corners but not that they make their goals like we do out of building play up.” Van Gaal has also told his star players they must track back more to protect their back four. Louis van Gaal says he is completely happy with his defence despite the amount of goals conceded by Manchester United so far this season. Press Association Respected pundits, including Gary Neville and Ruud Gullit, have questioned why Van Gaal did not spend more of his budget on his backline this summer – and a quick glance at the goals conceded column shows why. After six matches, Crystal Palace are the only side in the top 11 with a worse record than Van Gaal’s men, who have conceded nine goals in six games. “We have a lot of creative players and they need more discipline,” he said. “So we are looking for a balance in attacking football without thinking too much about only attacking but also guarding your defence.” Paddy McNair put in arguably the best defensive performance of the season on his debut last weekend in the 2-1 win over West Ham. Van Gaal confirmed the 19-year-old will retain his place in the team for Sunday’s game against Roberto Martinez’s side. ‘We still have three central defenders injured so he (McNair) shall play,” Van Gaal said. ”He is the only player who can play in the right-sided defensive position. ”I chose him last week and he played very good. It’s difficult for a player like him to maintain that level – that is his biggest challenge.” Everton defender John Stones is a natural leader and a future captain, according to manager Roberto Martinez, who believes the youngster is learning from some of the best at Goodison Park. The 20-year-old has started five of the last six matches, missing only the Capital One Cup defeat at Swansea in that time, and is developing a maturity beyond his years. He had an excellent game in last weekend’s Merseyside derby and faces as tough a test on Sunday as Everton head to Old Trafford looking to produce a repeat of their landmark win at Manchester United last season. “John Stones has been in terrific form ever since he played his first (pre-season) friendly in the USA,” said Martinez. “Since then he has been growing as a footballer and he is a complete centre-half. “In the modern game you need centre halves who are as good in defensive duties as they are exposing one versus one situations and being good on the ball. “John has gone to the next level this season. He has shown he is ready for any challenge. “Every time he has played for England he has done well and he is growing at club level every game. “John is really well rounded but the focus is on what he can do at Everton – it is not up to me to measure his possibilities with the national team. “He is a leader. He is born with that quality. He has real high standards in everything he does and for a young man he has always got the right approach on a daily basis. “In my eyes he is a potential captain and leader, someone very close to Phil Jagielka and Gareth Barry. “He has a good core to learn from – Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz and it has been beneficial having Tim Howard behind him. “Clearly in the last few weeks he has earned his place and performances have shown that.” Everton travel to Old Trafford after a long trip to southern Russia in the Europa League in midweek but they will not use that as an excuse. Last season they recorded their first league win at United since 1992, on the way to doing the double over the Red Devils, but Martinez expects a tougher task this time around. “To be able to win was a real mental barrier which we had to break down and it was a real feeling of satisfaction and dose of confidence,” he said of last year’s performance. “This season it is completely different. We need to go there again and face a completely different side and way of playing and be able to adapt to that. “The challenge is to go there and be ourselves and try to win the game.” last_img

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