Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Stats show Man United get more time added on when they need it

Patrick Kidd has a good piece in The Times today describing Alex Ferguson as a "dyspeptic bully" with reference to how he reacts when his team loses.

Despite getting nearly six minutes of stoppage time in their 1-0 FA Cup 3rd round defeat to Leeds United, a team two divisions below his own team on Sunday, Ferguson was furious and insisted they they should have had more time and the fact that they did not is an "insult to the game".

What an absolute load of rubbish. As an armchair Liverpool fan (and believe me, we have had our fair share of defeats in the last 20 years!) I have seen on countless occasions Ferguson making it abundantly clear he wants the whistle to be blown as soon as injury time starts when his team is ahead. And the exact opposite when he is behind.

So what, you might say. All managers do this, he's just the most high profile.

Except that it has an actual effect. I was going to do some research on this myself but first I tweeted to see if anyone had already done some and @BinaryDad drew my attention to this article from The Guardian last September entitled "Revealed: Manchester United get more injury time when they need it".

They analysed the results of every Man United league match at home since the 2006-2007 season and discovered:

On average, there has been over a minute extra added by referees when United do not have the lead after 90 minutes, compared to when they are in front. In 48 games when United were ahead, the average amount of stoppage time was 191.35 seconds. In 12 matches when United were drawing or losing there was an average of 257.17sec.

It seems to be getting worse too:

In 2006-07, for example, United were winning 15 times on entering stoppage time and referees added an average 194.53sec. In the four games when United were not winning there was an average of 217.25sec. The following year the disparity was greater, Opta's figures showing an average 178.29sec added when United were winning and 254.5sec when they were not. Last season it was 187.71sec compared to 258.6sec.

So last season they got almost 38% more stoppage time when they needed it at home. I am sure Ferguson's antics on the touchline must contribute to this.

On Sunday, Alex Ferguson's team lost to the better side on the day. Leeds had more of the possession and within the rules and the ample amount of extra time, they won. He should accept that and stop moaning, after all, this research makes it clear he gets more than his fair share of "luck".


Chris Black said...

Waterloo 1815

Sir Alex Napoleon, in a post-battle interview, said it was 'a disgrace' that the battle hadn't continued longer. "We had injured men all over the field,, we should have had 30 seconds extra addeed on for each of them....

Jonathan said...

It pains me to be fair to Alex Ferguson, but is it possible that more time is added when Manchester United are not winning because their opponents are more likely to be wasting time?

Alex said...


Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

The "Guardian's" numbers you quote do, of course, fail the Mark Reckons' acid test for numbers.

Without comparatives for other top 4 teams and maybe Liverpool, it is hard to infer what the numbers reveal.