21 February, 2014 - 07:08

Premier League: Who pulls Manchester United down?

Have you ever thought why the manager of your club keeps starting a player who had fallen out of favor with the fans? Or doesn’t give a chance to someone, who you think is a game changer? Here is something that might be the reason.

Despite hot times in Premier League and the return of Champions League, I decided to have a look at Sochi Olympic Games and shift attention to ice hockey for a change. Oh, Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres or Ashley Young would definitely not be able to compete in that sport with their theatrics and physique. But I’m not going to become a one thousand three hundred and fifty-second press person chewing over diving, spitting, biting and racist issues of modern football game. What I was impressed with was the amount of statistics available to managers and fans in ice hockey. You can evaluate players’ contribution to the game simply looking at the numbers on your computer. That said, if this system was applied in football, no one would have paid 30 million for Erik Lamela or Marouane Fellaini. They are different sports, football and ice hockey, and we can’t be guided by the same logic and statistics. But I couldn’t help trying to put some of the players in the shoes of their winter sport colleagues and put them under the scrutiny of impartial numbers in an attempt to measure their contribution to their squads’ performances. As long as possession, distance covered and other television stuff does not bring you victories, but goals and final score are the only things that matter at the end of the day, I took the plus/minus stats to see what players have positive impact on the game. Obviously, there is no fairness in those stats, because some players are picked for serious clashes, others have cameo roles, some miss games through injuries and so on. But if you look at those stats, you see that that some of the players are meant for being part of selections that bring positive results, while others pull the team down. The stats could be really surprising.

It would takes ages to count the stats of all Premier League teams and I picked Manchester United as arguably the least stable and predictable team of the season.

David Moyes has used 27 players in current Premier League season, more than any other of the managers. Obviously he is trying to find better options and the best combinations, but who are the players contributing to positive results and who are the odd ones?

A player who was on the pitch when a goal was scored gets one point. If a goal was conceded - he has one point off. Number of matches played and other patterns are not taken into consideration.

So here is the efficiency list of Manchester United players:


1. Antonio Valencia +14
2. Adnan Januzaj +12
3. Patrice Evra +11
4. David De Gea +10
4. Tom Cleverley +10
6. Phil Jones +9
6. Jonny Evans +9
8. Wayne Rooney +8
9. Robin van Persie +6
9. Javier Hernandez +6
9. Rafael +6
12. Shinji Kagawa +4
13. Nemanja Vidic +3
13. Ryan Giggs +3
13. Danny Welbeck +3
16. Michael Carrick +2
16. Fabio +2
18. Anderson +1
18. Chris Smalling +1
18. Darren Fletcher +1
19. Juan Mata +1
22. Rio Ferdinand 0
22. Wilfried Zaha 0
24. Nani -2
24. Alex Buttner -2
26.Marouane Fellaini -3
27. Ashley Young -4

Quite curious, isn’t it? So Antonio Valencia, Adnan Januzaj and Patrice Evra seem to be the ones who really have the famous United spirit. And is Tom Cleverley that useless as everybody thinks? But if you look at the bottom of the list, it’s hard to disagree with the results. Few United fans have enjoyed performances of Young, Fellaini and Nani so far.

And you can make a natural squad of the eleven most efficient players with Evra, Jones, Evans and Rafael at the back, Cleverley, Januzaj and Valencia in midfield, Rooney behind the strikers in van Persie and Chicharito. What do you say, David Moyes?

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Author: Leon Smolski

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21 February 2014, 11:13

That's pretty amusing :) The best 11 according to +/- stats are close to what I actually consider to be the best ManU squad at the moment! And honestly you don't need to see stats to realize Young is rubbish..

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