As Manchester United stumbled to a third successive defeat, manager Louis van Gaal cut a frustrated figure in the aftermath of a match where his side had as much as 80 percent possession.

While United have dominated possession in all of their last three games, they haven’t been able to carve out many opportunities. Saturday’s game was once again familiar, especially until the first half as the home side failed to create many chances.

In the second, however, a couple of tactical changes from Van Gaal helped United’s cause as the team started to look more dangerous as Robin van Persie moved to a deeper role and Marouane Fellaini played as the target man.

Nevertheless, that progress was haulted soon after as West Brom got a lucky break with a deflected freekick that went into De Gea’s net.

The Dutchman’s troops responded well to going down and won a penalty in the 72nd minute. With his premier striker behind the ball, the match seemed to be on the verge of becoming level, yet, it just wasn’t going in for Van Gaal’s side, as Van Persie failed to convert.

Van Gaal was left to rue that miss and a flurry of others that followed.

“Normally, Robin shoots the penalties very good but it was also a good save from the keeper,” said van Gaal to MUTV. “You have to give the credit also to the goalkeeper but it was our biggest chance as it was without a lot of bodies in front of you.

“Ita s also a concern now [a lack of goals] because ita s not a coincidence and, in spite of the way we have played against Chelsea, Everton and now against West Bromwich Albion, we have created a lot of chances and still we dona t score. So you can say, as manager, we were not unlucky in every match. Ita s also that you have to finish these chances. We have lost three times in a row so ita s also in the hands of my players. It is less secure [a top-four place].

Van Gaal applauded Baggiesa keeper Boas Myhill who made as many as four world class saves in the second half alone.

“I know what is happening,” van Gaal added. “In the defence, West Brom shall park the bus and they have done that. The goalkeeper was fantastic and I think they did not give us sufficient space to score the goals as we have created enough chances to score but still from a difficult situation because a lot of bodies are in front of you.

“The goal was not even a chance a it was a free-kick and it was a deflected free-kick also. It is very unlucky when you see what we have created and how we missed the chances and how they scored. Ita s unbelievable but that is also the beauty of football.”

United are, at the moment, four points clear of Liverpool in the fourth and final Champions League qualification spots. It is a far cry from three weeks ago, when Van Gaala s side looked set to finish in second place after winning six in a row, in a run that included wins over Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and reigning champions Manchester City.