Data Rant: the first five games

Ryan Giggs Louis van-Gaal

It is some surprise that under Louis van Gaal Manchester United has made a worse start to the season than under David Moyes last year. It is surely the calibre of the Dutchman that has kept discontent at a minimum. With so much investment in the summer, United’s minimum goal is to finish in the […]

Data Rant: Danny Welbeck

Danny Welbeck

Danny Welbeck’s departure to Arsenal is peculiar in the sense that the London club was arguably in greater need of Radamel Falcao than Manchester United. As is, United has upgraded the forward line while Arsenal has acquired a Premier League quality forward to weather the loss of Olivier Giroud. Win-win, perhaps, but Welbeck’s transfer is […]

Data Rant: box-to-box midfielders

Ander Herrera

The soon-to-depart midfielder Anderson was converted from a typical advanced playmaker to an ‘eight’ by Sir Alex Ferguson – the rationale being that the Brazilian has all the attributes of a great box-to-box midfielder. Anderson has not lived up to a promising first season at Old Trafford after joining in 2007, leaving Manchester United short of attacking […]

Data Rant: van Gaal’s Netherlands model

Robin van Persie diving header

Spain was humiliated in Brazil, to an ‘anti-tiki-taka’ Netherlands side to boot. It begs the question of just what kind of system new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will use at Old Trafford? Say it quietly – David Moyes has not been gone long enough for United fans to consider direct football without flinching […]

Data Rant: Antonio Valencia

Antonio Valencia

To much surprise Antonio Valencia signed a new, three-year, contract with Manchester United this week. Once bearer of the famed number seven shirt, Valencia’s star has fallen as much in reputation as output in recent years. The appointment of high-flying Louis Van Gaal is seen a sign of United returning to its attacking history, but […]

Data Rant: is attack the best form of defence?

Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic

David Moyes’ defensive outlook at Manchester United failed to bear fruit despite the adage that ‘defence wins championships.’ Even with the Scot’s obvious emphasis on conservatism, Moyes’ Reds failed to better his old club, Everton, in terms of goals conceded last season. United’s back-four is set to be reconstructed this summer after Nemanja Vidić and […]

Data Rant: Rooney in midfield

Wayne Rooney

Paul Scholes’ recent claim that Wayne Rooney has “all the ability to take over my old position at Manchester United” has reopened the door for a long-thought-buried conversation. Those supporting Scholes do so reasoning that Rooney can hit sweeping passes, just like the retired United midfielder, and that the 28-year-old’s well-roundedness will shine in deeper areas. […]

Data Rant: Rooney’s sale makes sense

Wayne Rooney, Chelsea

Paul Scholes caused much ruckus this week by claiming that “Wayne [Rooney's peak] could have been … when he was 26.” Sir Alex Ferguson’s vehement efforts to dispatch Rooney also hints at something more than simply a personality clash. After all, on the pitch, the 28-year-old has been mediocre for three seasons now. The new […]

Data Rant: creative performance vs. league position

Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney

Even the very best teams are occasionally beaten by a less able side – shock results are part of football’s fabric – but consecutive draws and losses become alarming for any club. Under David Moyes Manchester United endured four such ‘poor streaks’, averaging 2.75 losses and/or draws across the quartet of disappointing runs. Yet, the […]

Data Rant: how much will the Glazers release this summer?


Helped by few suspect refereeing decisions Guus Hiddink took South Korea to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup. In the process the Dutch manager confused many Korean journalists by referring to his 3-5-2 system as “1-3-3-2-2″ – he often preached that a player’s position is always relative to others and that the goalkeeper is […]