Since November 25 Manchester United have won just three games from a possible 13 – and while one of those wins was a moral-boosting smash-and-grab away to Liverpool, a last-minute penalty to beat Sheffield United and a 2-1 victory at home to Swansea are unsurprisingly not easing the pressure on Louis van Gaal.
The Dutchman with the largest testicles in football has found himself at the helm of a team that is struggling to create chances, and an FA Cup tie away to Derby on Friday night isn’t going to do much to help his cause. Lose or draw and it’s yet another game closer to LVG’s P45, win unconvincingly and it’s the same. Even a thrashing of Derby would be received with lukewarm praise as it what would be expected when a top flight team meets a Championship side who are winless in five league games.
So while fans and punters alike have lost faith in LVG, it would be wrong to lose faith in Wayne Rooney. Particularly when he is a very attractive price to score first at .
Attack Attack Attack: Busting The Myth
There’s a familiar sound that you tend to hear on matchdays around Manchester. It tends to be an elongated groan of despair, followed by a rousing and aggressive chant to attack. Similar to the noises you here on the Night Link out of Dublin City on a Saturday night. What has actually happened is another long ball towards Marouane Fellaini has drifted out of play, and the Red Devils are back to square one.
But as the below (and somewhat functional) table shows, Manchester United haven’t been shooting poorly, and that is the key reason not to lose faith in Wazza.
In comparison to title challengers Leicester in fact, United had a higher percentage of shots inside the area, a higher percentage of shots in the area on target, and a higher conversion rate than the Foxes during their four league games in January. Although Leicester had seven more shots across the four games, United proved themselves just as accurate with both sides finding the target with around 26 per cent of their efforts.
The Red Devils weren’t taking pot shots from long-range either – with almost two-thirds of their attempts coming from inside the area. almost 20 per cent of their total shots were actually inside the area and on target and that resulted in six goals for LVG’s Red Army. A conversion rate of 13 per cent. It would appear to be a lack of creating opportunities, rather than wayward efforts.
Across the season United have been putting away chances. This is nothing new. They have 24 goals from 258 shots which results in a conversion rate of 16.7 per cent. Arsenal’s conversion rate is 13.2 per cent, while Tottenham’s conversion rate is 16.2 per cent. the difference? The Gunners have attempted 85 more shots than United (resulting in nine more goals) while Tottenham have had 118 more goal attempts (resulting in eight more goals).
Rooney himself has had a solid season – scoring 15 goals in 32 appearances for club and country. In January he’s scored five goals in five games, and in the league alone this month he’s scored four goals from just 16 attempts, so he’s got his eye well in. If United can tee up their captain on Friday night, you’d have every confidence he’ll put it away.
So while the fear is Manchester United aren’t creating enough chances, Wayne Rooney’s form should give you a little more confidence that the price of for him to score first is on the big side. A few other key points to strengthen this view are:
- Derby haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last five league games, conceding 12 goals along the way
- In their four league games in January, Derby have given up 50 attempts on goal and failed to pick up a win
- Away from home in the league Manchester United have actually been more likely to score – finding the net in 75 per cent of their games on the road, compared to just 55 per cent of their matches at Old Trafford
- The Rooney family have just welcomed baby Kit into the world. While this non-footballing statistic might not do too much to warm your heart, it is important to consider the positive effect it might have on the striker’s confidence and happiness on the pitch
Louis van Gaal might not have a lot of time left at Old Trafford, but don’t let United’s poor form put you off Mr Rooney. At 9/2 the captain can help line your pockets by finding the net in the Cup, and keeping LVG in a job. For now at least…