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Data: the impact of past performance on future results

December 9, 2017 Tags: , Data 1 comment
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Will José Mourinho’s team perform better after last week’s win? The Reds earned victory against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, but with the Manchester derby coming up on Sunday, would it have been better if the team had lost? It is a strange question, but the impact that the result of one match has on the next is regularly discussed by both pundits and managers. Often, they refer to the confidence boost that a win carries into the next match. It is also argued that a loss can invigorate the team to work harder in the following game – greater motivation to turn things around.

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Data Rant: assessing Mourinho’s transfer strategy

June 18, 2016 Tags: , , Data 8 comments
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It is often beneficial to look at the Premier League as a whole to see where Manchester United stands and to identify any general trends. Last season was an unmitigated disaster, even with the FA Cup victory, and lessons should be learned to avoid the further ‘Liverpoolization’ of the club. In earlier Data Rant columns, statistical theory was not strictly observed – emphasizing intuition and broad trends above technicalities. However, with more advanced techniques we can get a more precise picture.

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Data Rant: United’s fading Champions League hopes

February 19, 2016 Tags: Data 11 comments
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Louis van Gaal conceded defeat after Manchester United’s loss in Sunderland – it will be, he admitted, “very difficult to qualify for the Champions League through the top four now.” The Europa League remains, but it is never a good idea to count on winning a tournament – as the Reds’ defeat to Midtjylland in Denmark proves. Read More

Data Rant: how many goals will United need this season?

September 2, 2015 Tags: , Data 21 comments
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Manchester United wrapped up business for the summer on Tuesday with the £36 million acquisition of Anthony Martial. Ed Woodward failed to significantly improve Louis van Gaal’s defence, but added two of the best young forwards in Europe in Memphis Depay and Martial. Meanwhile, midfield has been significantly improved by Bastian Schweinsteiger’s experience and Morgan Schneiderlin’s steel, while David De Gea’s service has been retained – for now. So where will United finish next May? Read More

Data Rant: Van Gaal’s obsession with passing

August 21, 2015 Tags: , Data 9 comments
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Despite scoring the match winning goal at Villa Park, Adnan Januzaj was criticized by Louis Van Gaal for “unnecessary ball losses.” In fact, pass completion seems to be the chief criterion by which the Manchester United manager judges performance. Why does Van Gaal place such importance upon the passing and is pass completion a robust enough indicator of team performance? Data Rant investigates… Read More

Data Rant: rebuilding United’s attack

July 20, 2015 Tags: Data 9 comments
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It would not surprise Data Rant if Louis van Gaal and Ed Woodward are being guided by a team of statisticians both on the pitch and in the transfer market. Indeed, Van Gaal has often spoke fondly of “computer gurus,” while Opta has long offered highly detailed data to professional football teams – much more so than anything available to the public. Read More