Manchester United FC

Manager-in: Meet Manchester United’s new boss – Louis van Gaal

Manchester United have signed Louis van Gaal (LvG) in a 3 year deal. He is the first Non-UK (United Kingdom) Manchester United manager. He is very much in contrast to David Moyes. He has managed at the clubs (Barcelona and Bayern Munich) at the highest level, has won trophies (La Liga, Bundesliga, Champions League and UEFA Cup) which are at the highest level and has succeeded a manager (Bobby Robson at Barcelona) at the highest level & coped up well. These 3 factors (none of which David Moyes possessed) are a great fit for Manchester United currently. His signing was supposed to happen 12 years back (2002) when Sir Alex Ferguson thought of retiring (before a change in his decision). After 12 years, it’s happened. Let’s have a look at his managerial statistics.

Louis Van Gaal Managerial Record

Louis Van Gaal Managerial Record

LvG has got a better winning record at every club he has managed. He has even surpassed the record of Sir Alex Ferguson (58.14 % wins in career) in winning percentage with 61.33% career wins. David Moyes was never near both of them at just 44.58%.

LvG vs SAF vs David Moyes

LvG vs SAF vs David Moyes

Sir Alex Ferguson is famous for delivering trophies consistently at Manchester United. David Moyes on the other hand doesn’t have any major trophies to add his name to. Louis van Gaal has the experience winning key trophies like Dutch Eredivisie, Spanish La Liga, Copa del Rey, German Bundesliga, UEFA Super Cup, Inter Continental Cup, UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League. This will prove to be a key factor in turning around things at Old Trafford.

Louis van Gaal Trophy Cabinet

Louis van Gaal Trophy Cabinet

He is one of the philosophers of attacking football and his impact at the clubs is on a positive side. His sides in most of the cases have focused on scoring more goals. AFC AJAX had an instant impact of him. They had an average of 73.5 goals per season in the four seasons before he came. In his first 5 seasons, he managed an average of 91.8 goals per season.

AFC AJAX - GOALS SCORED PER SEASON

AFC AJAX – GOALS SCORED PER SEASON

In Barcelona, he managed an average of 78.33 goals per season. In the 3 seasons before he was signed, they had an average of 78 goals per season. There wasn’t much impact in terms of average, but he was consistent in goals and won the league two times & came second once. In Bayern Munich he has managed the team to score the highest number of league goals (81 goals in 34 games) in 23 years. Hence his footballing philosophy always revolves around scoring more goals, which is a very good trait for a Manchester United manager.

Do you know that, Louis van Gaal’s AFC Ajax side lost only 1 match (in KNVB Cup) in the entire 1994-95 campaign in 49 matches.

The concern about him is that he is very stubborn and arrogant. This might help or prove bad for United. He has been sacked by Barcelona in 2003, has resigned as Technical Director from Ajax in 2004 due to internal conflict and has been sacked by Bayern Munich in 2011. He has had highs and lows in his managerial career. Whether he will prove to be a success in United is yet to be seen.

Do you think he will be a success at Manchester United?

8 statistics that haunted David Moyes’ United tenure

1. POOR TABLE POSITION

Manchester United are not going to finish in Top 3 for the first time in Premier League

Manchester United - First time out of Top Three

Manchester United – First time out of Top Three

2. LOW POINTS EARNED

Even if United wins the remaining 4 games, they will be able to earn only 69 points, which is 6 less than their lowest in Premier League

Manchester United - Lowest Points Tally ever in Premier League

Manchester United – Lowest Points Tally ever in Premier League

3. OLD TRAFFORD’S PRESTIGE PUT AT STAKE

Old Trafford has become a 3-points gifting stadium. Apart from the top 6 clubs, Stoke City, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Hull City, Norwich City, West Ham United, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion have all performed better than United at their respective home stadiums in one aspect or the other as depicted below.

Premier League Home Table 2013-14 Season

Premier League Home Table 2013-14 Season

4. HUMILIATIONS GALORE

Humiliations have been so common that so many teams recorded their first wins against Manchester United in the recent times

David Moyes' Humiliations at United

David Moyes’ Humiliations at United

5. VERY POOR PERFORMANCE AGAINST THE BEST TEAMS

Manchester United performance against Top 5 teams have been so abysmal in the last 5 years. Incidentally, this table shows a decline in form against Top teams during Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure itself.

Under David Moyes, United against top 5 teams

Under David Moyes, United against top 5 teams

6. INABILITY TO ACHIEVE STABILITY

Even towards the end of the season, David Moyes had never finalized on his preferred starting line up. Manchester United have the maximum number of players utilized in the league (28) among the Top 7 teams.

David Moyes - 51 Starting Line Ups at United

David Moyes – 51 Starting Line Ups at United

7. LACK OF TRANSFERS ACUMEN

Sir Alex Ferguson always have spent less money to get high output from the players he has signed. David Moyes failed in that miserably as his signings Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini didn’t actually contribute as much as expected.

Money Spent per goal and assist - Manchester United

Money Spent per goal and assist – Manchester United

8. VERY POOR INTENT IN FRONT OF GOAL

Basis of scoring is to show more intent by having more shots per game. This key indicator has steeply decreased this year and it’s noticed that even under Sir Alex Ferguson last season, this dip was noticed.

Manchester United - Shots per game over seasons

Manchester United – Shots per game over seasons

Share your opinion on what all went wrong for David Moyes at Manchester United.

Breaking the myth of Fixture Congestion

It’s about resting up and getting ready to go. I don’t know about the Premier League but other countries seem to look after their teams representing them in the Champions League. I’m not sure we do so much here.”

complained Frank Lampard. But is it the reality? How far do the other countries accommodate their fixtures in accordance with that of Champions League (CL)? Findings on analysis seem to paint a different picture! For this analysis, the scope will be restricted to England, Germany and Spain clubs’ (each representing 4 teams in CL) schedules this season (2013-14).

Analyzing the average time between kick-off of CL and other games (League and Cup competitions), the following points are found out:

Avg. time between games' kick-off (CL and others)

Avg. time between games’ kick-off (CL and others)

FIXTURE CONGESTED CLUBS: Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Bayern Munich are the clubs with least average time between games. Real Madrid have a deep squad enough to rotate players and play their usual game. Arsenal is already struggling to cope up with the fixtures. Bayern Munich with their strong position in the league can afford to rotate players according to their need.

LEAST AFFECTED CLUBS: Manchester United (Even without the recent fixture adjustment, their numbers are pretty high), Barcelona, Athletico Madrid and Chelsea are the clubs with the highest average resting time between games. The perception of Barcelona and United getting a preference in the fixture scheduling seems true. Frank Lampard’s complaint of English clubs not getting the support from The Football Association doesn’t seem to be substantiated with facts.

Analysis on averages could be skewed. Hence, it’s good to have an eye on the distribution of the time gaps between the games as well.

No. of times with less than three days between games

No. of times with less than three days between games

Real Madrid are the most affected team since they have to play six times with the gap between two games less than 3 days. This is really grueling for the players. Chelsea, though experiences a higher average time gap, is forced four times to play within a span of 3 days. In contrast, Arsenal which had a lower time gap has been forced to play within a span of 3 days only twice. 

Time gap analysis between games

Time gap analysis between games

Although, Chelsea is stressed out with games within 3 days the overall picture suggests it’s not very much stressed compared to its peers. If you consider the gap of 4 days, Chelsea enjoys the second best fixture schedule only next to Real Sociedad who are already out of the competition. Even Manchester City schedule is stressed out: for 11 times, 2 games are being scheduled withing a gap of 4 days. The same is the situation of Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and Bayern Munich. This pattern also hints out that Spain clubs have a better accommodating fixture schedule than England and Germany ones.

If you see the overall picture,

Country wise Resting time analysis between games

Country wise Resting time analysis between games

1. German clubs have a tight fixture schedule followed by Spanish clubs and English clubs in terms of average resting time between games.

2. Only 59% of times, Spanish clubs are forced to play 2 games within a time span of 4 days. This is markedly higher for German clubs (73%) and English clubs (66%).

Hence the verdict is,

If at all, there needs to be support from the Football Association in terms of scheduling games in accordance to UEFA Champions League fixtures schedule, it’s the German clubs who need more support than English and Spanish clubs from its Football Association.

Football Associations' ranking in terms of scheduling support

Football Associations’ ranking in terms of scheduling support

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Premier League Analysis: How much does the “LITTLE HORSE” cost?

Jose Mourinho said “Two horses and a little horse in the race”. Manuel Pellegrini responded “Little, but Rich horse”. Are they joking? Managers of two heavy weight teams formed on millions of pounds are fighting over Financial Mediocrity! Let’s figure out the real scenario by analyzing the cost incurred in assembling the Premier League top 7 clubs. 

Premier League Top 7 Squad - Average Purchase Cost

Premier League Top 7 Squad – Average Purchase Cost

RED DEVILS SQUAD IS COSTLY TOO: Manchester United squad players (12.04 m Pounds per player) costed them almost twice more than Tottenham (7.74 m Pounds per player), Arsenal (7.25 m Pounds per player) & Liverpool (6.36 m Pounds per player) players and 6 times Everton squad players’ (2.71 m Pounds per player) average cost. They can’t afford to lose Champions League spot with such a rich squad. 

The average cost is not always spread to all players in the squad. Splitting the team into its main XI based on number of appearances in Premier League this season, the disparity between the main XI and other players’ cost in the squad shows the following observations:

Difference between Main XI and Other players' average costs

Difference between Main XI and Other players’ average costs

1. Youth Development Pro Clubs: Arsenal and Liverpool are showing a more interest in the development of young players through youth academy than their peers.

2. Chelsea spent money equally for Bench players and Main XI: Though Chelsea stands second in terms of overall squad average cost, they stand first in terms of average cost of players in bench.

3. High risk of losing main XI players: Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton are the clubs which have high disparity between the main XI and the rest of the squad.

Considering the least costing 11 players from the squads, the following observations were noticed:

Average Purchase Cost - Least cost players

Average Purchase Cost – Least cost players

1. Chelsea and Manchester City squads’ least cost 11 players cost more than Liverpool’s average cost of the overall squad. 

2. Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal have more players signed from youth academy or on loan relatively.

3. Manchester United’s least cost 11 players cost almost the same as Everton’s average cost of overall squad.

By position of players, the analysis leads to the following insights:

Average Purchase Cost by Position

Average Purchase Cost by Position

1. Arsenal is the only team to have spent very high cost on Midfielders compared to Forwards and Defenders

2. Strangely, the leaky Manchester United defense has the highest cost spent player across the top 7 clubs.

3. Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have spent very high cost per Forward than per Midfielder. 

4. Arsenal have forwards and defenders with almost same cost per person.

5. Arsenal’s forwards cost much lesser than Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool.

Data used for the analysis could be found in Premier League Players Purchase Cost Data. Do share your views on this article in the comments section.

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Premier League Analysis: Big Clubs have high Player Longevity

Attrition (Rate of employees leaving an organization) is always low at the bigger organizations and institutions. This fits the scenario for Football players in the Premier League Clubs too. The table here shows the average years spent in the same club by its top 11 appearance making players. Observations from this analysis are as follows:

Average Years Spent at Club by top 11 appearance making players (2013-14 season)
Average Years Spent at Club by top 11 appearance making players (2013-14 season)

1. Longer the players stick around, Better the team performs

Top 5 clubs in retaining their main (Starting XI) players (Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool) are placed in Top 7 in the league table. In fact, none of the top 10 teams in the top half of the league table are in the bottom 6 in this list. Reverse is also true: Big and successful clubs retain their main men.

2. David Moyes didn’t stamp his mark in the club yet (whereas his peers did at their respective clubs)

Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton are the clubs with high average player longevity. All these clubs had a managerial change this season too. None of the players signed by David Moyes played regularly enough whereas Jose Mourinho had Willian break into the starting XI and Martinez had Barry, McCarthy and Lukaku break into the starting XI. Considering the recent 5 players from the main squad, the average time spent in the club is still very high for United at 3.4 years whereas for Chelsea and Everton its just 1.8 years. Hence, Chelsea and Everton are fresh teams with very old stalwarts supporting them whereas Manchester United is only a old team which needs fresh faces.

Top 11 appearance making players in United, Chelsea and Everton
Top 11 appearance making players in United, Chelsea and Everton

3. Arsenal is neither a young team nor a fresh new team anymore

Arsenal’s main XI has been sticking together for a long time too. Szczesny, Sagna, Gibbs, Ramsey and Wilshere have been in the club for around 6 years or more. And the average age of the club is also at 26.5 which is higher than 8 other clubs (notable among them where Liverpool and Tottenham). Arsene Wenger can’t use that as an excuse for not winning anymore, but on the same hand Jose Mourinho is wrong in saying his side is young as well. Chelsea main XI’s average age is 27.5 which is lesser than only 6 other clubs. Both Arsenal and Chelsea have a well balanced side with young, old, new and experienced players.

Arsenal Main XI Average Years Spent at club
Arsenal Main XI Average Years Spent at club

4. Longer a club stays in the league, more the club retains its players

There are 7 clubs (Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Tottenham) which have never been relegated in Premier League and 6 of them have the main XI stick together for more years than the other league clubs. The clubs which are recently promoted are the ones to have more new players playing for the team and they are clubs which are predominantly in the bottom half of the table.

PL Clubs - Player Longevity and Current Spell
PL Clubs – Player Longevity and Current Spell

Share your thoughts with us.

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February Fixture Analyzer – Premier League Analysis

What is GREEN GRID?

Fixture Analyzer or Green Grid is an analysis done on the monthly fixtures of Premier League teams based on how difficult it is to accumulate points against their opponents, to score goals against their opponents and to defend goals against their opponents. In the Green Grid, the GREEN colored cells are the ones with (relatively) easy fixtures and the RED ones are the tough fixtures. More the number of GREEN cells for a team, easier the fixtures for the month will be.

GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Points

GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Points

Observations from Fixture Analyzer based on Opponent’s league points so far:

  1. Among the top 3 teams, Chelsea have the toughest task in terms of getting points in February. This puts Manchester City and Arsenal in an advantage to secure more points and gain lead with Chelsea.
  2. In the fight for Europa League spot, Southampton have favorable fixtures in February whereas Newcastle United have a tough month in the league. Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have fixtures with medium difficulty.
  3. Considering the first two scenarios, with a relatively easy fixture for Liverpool, we may expect Liverpool to stay in top four at the end of the month.
  4. Bottom Three Shake-up: We may expect a shake up in the bottom three positions as the current teams in relegation zone, West Ham, Fulham and Cardiff city, have easy fixtures than the ones (Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Sunderland) immediately above them.
GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Scored

GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Scored

How easy/difficult is it for the teams to be solid defensively?

  1. Defensive organization of Arsenal and Chelsea will be undergoing a lot of attack from the opponents. It will be difficult to concede less.
  2. Among the top 9 teams, Manchester City, Manchester United and Southampton face opponents who haven’t scored much in the league. Their defense players have an easier task at hand.
  3. Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Sunderland are the teams which will be thundered with goals by opponents in February.
GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Conceded

GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Conceded

How easy/difficult is it for the teams to score goals in January?

  1. Tottenham and Sunderland will face a tough time to score goals in February
  2. Chelsea and Newcastle United among the top 9 teams face teams which are very solid defensively. Their strike force will find it an uphill task to score against opponents.
  3. Southampton is the team in the top half with less resistance to score goals. After that, relatively Liverpool and Manchester City have lesser resistant forces from the opponents.

Share your views regarding the February fixtures of Barclays Premier League.

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January Fixture Analyzer – Premier League Analysis

GREEN GRID - January Fixture Analyzer - Opponent's Points

GREEN GRID – January Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Points

January Fixture Analyzer tells you the level of difficulty your club will encounter in terms of scoring a goal, preventing a goal and score points in the Barclays Premier League Fixtures for the month of January.

  1. Sunderland has the easiest fixture as all the four games are relatively easy. So, we can expect Sunderland to come out of the relegation zone by the end of January.
  2. Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Fulham as well have easy fixtures. These 5 teams have 3 easy games out of their 4 games. Arsenal will be expected to stay in the top of the table by January end.
  3. Manchester United, Aston Villa and Cardiff City have the toughest fixtures amongst all the teams. If United gets favorable outcome at the end of January, they will be able to challenge for Top Four or even for title.
  4. Chelsea, Everton, Hull City and West Ham also have tough fixtures in January. Chelsea’s biggest challenge will be to remain in the title race by the end of January.

How easy/difficult is it for the teams to score goals in January?

  1. Arsenal, Swansea, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Sunderland face teams which have so far conceded more goals each game. These teams hence have a good chance to score more goals.
  2. Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Hull City and Cardiff City face teams which have so far conceded very few goals. Hence, these five teams will face a difficult task to increase their goal tally for the season.
GREEN GRID - January Fixture Analyzer - Opponent's Goals Conceded

GREEN GRID – January Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Conceded

How easy/difficult is it for the teams to be solid defensively?

  1. Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Norwich City, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Sunderland are going to face teams which have scored fewer goals so far. Liverpool and Manchester United among these teams are facing teams which score fewer goals and concede fewer goals. Therefore, mostly these teams’ games might be low scoring ones.
  2. Chelsea, Everton, Southampton, Hull City, Aston Villa, Cardiff City and West Ham are going to face teams which have scored many goals relatively so far.
GREEN GRID - January Fixture Analyzer - Opponent's Goals Scored

GREEN GRID – January Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Scored

Premier League Analysis: Solid First Half & Leaky Second Half

Goals conceded by Top 9 teams in different time periods of games

Goals conceded by Top 9 teams in different time periods of games

Time analysis on the goals conceded by the top 9 teams of Barclays Premier League tells us:

  1. Predominantly, most goals are conceded in the second half. This could be because the top teams generally are difficult to break and it takes a good amount of time for the opponent to build up and break the defense. These teams’ defense are mostly solid in first half and leaky in second half.
  2. Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton conceded almost 30% of their goals in the last 15 minutes of the game. Including the injury time as well, Arsenal and Manchester City have conceded 35% and 39% of their goals after 75 minutes of the game.
  3. Interestingly, 72% of goals conceded by Liverpool are from second half. Either they are very solid in defense in the first half or they are very ruthless in attack in the first half.
  4. Chelsea and Manchester United have been conceding many goals in the start of second half. It seems the half time pep talk of Jose Mourinho and David Moyes is counterproductive.
  5. Southampton is the only team to have conceded more than one-fourth of the goals in the first 15 minutes of the game.
  6. Liverpool and Southampton haven’t yet conceded in 31′ – 45′ and Manchester City hasn’t yet conceded in the first 15 minutes.

Combining this analysis with the Time Analysis on Goals scored by Top EPL teams gives interesting insights.

  1. For Arsenal and Everton, whenever they attacked more, they were more vulnerable and conceded more goals too.
  2. For Liverpool, the first half is for their attack and the second half is for their opponent to attack.
  3. For Chelsea, the last 15 minutes is the golden period for scoring as almost 30% of goals came from that.
  4. Tottenham’s 33% of goals came in the start of second half. Surprisingly, it seems Andre Villas Boas didn’t do bad in the half time talk, but he couldn’t help his defense conceding goals in all the periods. And Spurs haven’t yet scored in the first 15 minutes of the game.
  5. Newcastle United, Manchester United and Southampton have almost a similar pattern of goals scored in different periods. Their mid 60 minutes had most goals spread almost evenly.

An updated analysis diagram in shown below:

Goals scored by Top 9 teams in different time periods of games

Goals scored by Top 9 teams in different time periods of games

Premier League analysis – Big Influencers in Top 9 teams

Premier League Top 9 Teams Goal Split by Position

Premier League Top 9 Teams Goal Split by Position

There is always an instinct in us that says so-and-so club’s midfield/forward is solid and they contribute a lot to the team’s goals in relative to other positions. In this article, we will try to validate or invalidate some of our instincts.

FORWARDS DOMINATED TEAMS:

  1. 82% of Manchester United goals have come from the strikers (mainly Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie). Their lack of goals from the Midfield is a big concern and has affected their season much.
  2. Because of the huge influence of Suarez and Sturridge, Liverpool’s 68% of goals came up from strikers. Absence of any of these players would be a big impact to the club.
  3. Other teams where strikers are the big influencers are Southampton, Newcastle United and Manchester City.

MIDFIELDERS DOMINATED TEAMS:

  1. Chelsea is the team with high domination of Midfielders. The biggest concern for Chelsea is that their defenders have scored and equal number of goals as their strikers. If their strikers aren’t scaling up their goal tally, challenging for title would become an uphill task.
  2. Arsenal Midfield has scored 60% of their goals. As a testimony to their attacking form, 93% of their goals have come up from their forwards and midfielders. Maybe as they do their job, defense does their job effectively and helped in conceding very less number of goals.
  3. Though Tottenham seems dominated from the Midfield, the number of goals they scored is so less to come up with such a conclusion.

EQUALLY DOMINANT TEAMS:

  1. Everton has 82% of their goals from their Strikers and Midfielders. Their goal split is almost even that they both are equally contributing to the success the club is enjoying this season so far. There is a strong belief that Lukaku is the main contributor for Everton’s goals and that is 100% true as almost one-third of Everton’s goals are scored by him.

Share with us your opinions on the same!

Current Arsene Wenger versus Past Sir Alex Ferguson

Current Arsene Wenger versus Past Sir Alex Ferguson

Current Arsene Wenger versus Past Sir Alex Ferguson

Manchester united under Sir Alex Ferguson have never scored more than 31 points in first 13 Barclays Premier League games in the last 6 seasons. Do you think Arsenal would still be number one if SAF still manages United this season?