Welcome to Empirical Purple

A blog by Simon Brady to cover a surprisingly wide range of geekiness, in a combination that no-one else does quite the same way. Probably. Either that, or it'll just be Simon talking about the likes of Football (usually the Soccer variety), PC & Tabletop Gaming, WWE, Movies, Music and occasionally even my actual job of Graphic Design, depending on what I'm up to in the world.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Spot the Difference

Phil Jones, his usual calm, stoic self.
Like most football fans who watch the Premiership, I've been cheered by how quiet Manchester United fans have been so far on social media this season.

The usual cries of 'Come on you Reds', 'Glory Glory Man United', 'That's why we're champions' and the like had faded away even before the season started. Since then, my Twitter and Facebook timelines have been noticeably absent of the usual Man United fans crowing at how successful they are.

Except for Van Persie giving them a 1-0 win over Arsenal, it's like this season hasn't even happened for them. They've been talking, when finally putting their head up above the footballing parapet, about Southampton, Suarez, and the Spanish league.

That was until, of course, #MoyesOut.

Hacker or disgruntled Employee?

Fifteen games into the season and Manchester United (still) sit in ninth place, twelve points behind leaders Arsenal who have a game in hand that they'll play later today.  Potentially, Man United could be five wins behind not even halfway through the season. But how the hell have they managed it?

The rest of the footballing world has been nervously waiting for them to suddenly turn back into the Man United that we've dreaded for the past 20 years. That juggernaut who wins games despite having players who shouldn't really be that good, playing really badly against teams and still managing to beat them due to luck, skill and refereeing decisions, or a combination thereof.

The internet positively weeps with cries that Moyes has destroyed in half a season what it took Fergie to build in 20 years. He's the only thing different to the team of last year, he doesn't know what he's doing, he's on a secret mission with Marouane Fellaini to destroy the club, he's got a mid-table mindset... the list goes on. But what's the difference between this team and the one of last season, other than the manager and a Belgian Sideshow Bob cosplayer?

The answer - or the most glaring one I can see, at least - is Robin Van Persie. Van Persie had an amazing debut season last year, scoring 26 goals in 38 games. That was 35 starts and 3 substitute appearances, meaning he played in every single game of the season. Which means he wasn't injured.

In his eight seasons at Arsenal, he only managed that tally once, and that was in his final season - 38 appearances and only 1 as sub. That season he scored 30 League goals, then promptly went to Man United. The seven years before that he only managed 25, 16, 28, 15 and 22 league appearances, and barely managed half the amount of goals. His last three years have been his best, no doubt, but Van Persie's goals were the reason Man United kept winning last year.

Not so this year, as even though he and Rooney have added up to 15 of Man United's 22 goals this season, he's yet to be the man who has scored the crucial and winning goals, save in the 1-0 win over Arsenal. The supposedly £24M player papered over some of the cracks in the United side last season, but so far he hasn't been fit enough to be the miracle man to get them out of trouble each and every time.

Now, as a Liverpool fan I find this all very amusing. It's lovely to be near the top of the Premiership, looking down (way, way down) on Man United for the first time in about 20 years. This is particularly after last season, when we started with 2 points from five games and Brendan Rodgers' reign looked to be over before it had even begun. Then we thumped Norwich, went eight games unbeaten, and finally ended up a still less-than-respectable 7th. This time, with Rodgers' style of football and methods really starting to gel at the club, we're sitting pretty in 2nd.

It just goes to show what can happen if you stick with a manager, like United should with David Moyes. Let's see what happens after the festive fixtures are over.

Just think what might have been if the United board had followed this request in 1989.

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