Opta diagrams show how Old Trafford boss beat his former colleague.
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Sir Alex Ferguson beat his old friend and colleague Walter Smith last night, and while many will bemoan Rangers’ lack of adventure, diagrams using Opta data illustrate further where the game between Rangers and Manchester United was won and lost.
1. Michael Carrick key to Manchester United dominating possession.
Michael Carrick has come in for plenty of criticism in his time at Old Trafford, but excels when given time on the ball. Prior to the 2009 UEFA Champions League final, Barcelona midfielder Xavi noted “Carrick gives United balance and can play defensively too. He passes well, has a good shot and is a complete player.”
Of course, Manchester United comprehensively lost that match, with Barcelona’s pressing game all over the park leaving the Red Devils with no time to play, but last night given time Carrick was outstanding.
Player influence refers to time on the ball, with the player’s name bigger and larger the more they participate in events such as passes, tackles, shots and interceptions.
Carrick was comfortably the most influential player on the pitch, completing 107 of his 117 passes in the match – a 91.5% record overall – and gave the ball to a team-mate on thirty more occasions than any other player. 39 of those passes were in the attacking third of the pitch too, demonstrating how often Manchester United were in their opponents’ half.
Had Rangers pressurised Carrick and Scholes whenever they were in possession, they may have got something out of the match.
2. Rangers’ reliance on their right hand side and inability to break through.
The player influence diagram for Rangers is very lopsided, showing how often they looked to Steven Whittaker, Steven Naismith and Steven Davis.
The trouble for Rangers was though, that none of these three players could find a team-mate with the crucial final ball. Manchester United made a string of interceptions on that side which broke down the Glasgow side’s attacks.
3. Wayne Rooney’s eagerness to impress.
Wayne Rooney secured himself some positive headlines for the first time in a while with the winning goal against Rangers, and it was clear from the off the England forward was highly motivated to deliver a performance – and goal.
He ended up delivering from the penalty spot, but it was his tenth shot of the match – more than double any other player. Even more shockingly, Wayne Rooney had more shots than the entire Rangers team, who were playing at home. Rooney seemed to shoot at almost every opportunity, seemingly of the belief that a goal would result in redemption.
Images courtesy of the quite excellent Total Football Champions League iPhone app.
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