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

Wayne Rooney

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 […]

Data Rant: Van Gaal’s obsession with passing

Louis van Gaal

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 […]

Data Rant: rebuilding United’s attack

Wayne Rooney

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 […]

Data Rant: United’s summer game of Moneyball II

Morgan Schneiderlin

The ‘Moneyball’ approach is now omnipresent in sport. Sabermetics, econometrics as applied to baseball, translates poorly to football, but the overall thought still holds. The idea of ‘buying’ goals and assists, rather than players, is not all that revolutionary. Last summer, Data Rant utilised the Moneyball approach to look at some potential signings. With Manchester […]

Data Rant: Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne

Towards the end of last season the press was replete with articles citing a “senior source inside Old Trafford” as evidence that Manchester United was beginning preliminary negotiations with Nathaniel Clyne and his club Southampton. Yet, Ed Woodward has done little to counter Liverpool’s acquisition of the full-back this week. It is unlikely that Liverpool […]

Data Rant: in search of goals

Memphis Depay

Manchester United has qualified for next season’s Champions League and a good result against Arsenal – together with any further slip-on on the London side’s part – may even see the Reds sneak directly into Europe’s premier club competition. United must finish third to avoid a Champions League play-off against potentially difficult opposition next August. […]

Data Rant: Long ball Louis

Louis van Gaal, Long Ball

Perhaps a detailed statistical analysis of Louis van Gaal’s long ball football is not necessary – it is plain that the strategy has not worked this season. Manchester United’s performance against Tottenham Hostpur last Sunday may have been excellent, but the game saw United attempt a long ball 12.3 per cent of the time* – […]

Data Rant: Moyes vs Van Gaal

Moyes v Van Gaal

Manchester United’s victory against Premier League strugglers QPR increased the Reds’ total to 40 points this season. It was United’s 22nd game of a mixed campaign. Much has been made of the total after 21 games – just 37 points – the same amount David Moyes’ side had amassed at the same time last season. So who has really done better […]

Data Rant: Ashley Young

Ashley Young Antonio Valencia

Louis van Gaal has transformed Ashley Young from stuttering winger to a functioning wing-back this season. The 29-year-old has not set the world alight in the new role, but his presence has served a useful purpose amid an ongoing injury crisis at Old Trafford, with new signing Luke Shaw absent for most of the campaign. If […]