Monthly Archives: June 2016

Manchester United’s “huge contribution” to women’s football

“The decision was taken some years ago to concentrate on girls’ football as a community activity.  We have since developed that to include elite girls’ development through our Centre of Excellence.  The Club has made a huge contribution to the game through its top level coaching of girls.  At the moment, the Club has no plans to extend that activity to a senior women’s team but the situation is under review.”

– Response at recent Manchester United Fan Forum

“At Manchester United we provide opportunities for girls to play football at the highest level, with the aim of developing international players.”

– Club website, Manchester United Foundation


Manchester United generally respond to questions about why they don’t have a team for women with the line that they have a girl’s centre of excellence. They, I quote, have made a “huge contribution to the game” and aim “of developing international players”.

This is a list of the youth teams of 28 England internationals who’ve featured in the squad since the 2015 World Cup, along with the number of players who passed through that club. Due to some players moving from one youth team to another, the numbers add up to more than 28.

The information is taken from Wikipedia, but with these being international players the information is likely to be quite accurate. Manchester United are on the list, and are in bold.
Man Utd centreofexcellence

“Huge contribution” of a Centre of Excellence “Developing international players” are the reasons given for why Manchester United don’t have a women’s team.


The Great British Centre-Back Off

Right. (And with opening this post with that word, I present this an informal and somewhat personal thing). TL;DR, I looked at England and Wales’ centre-backs but in audio form, and the link to the Soundcloud is here but me writing a small introduction carries on beneath. If you jut want to listen, go ahead, if you want to know a bit about it and why I did it, read below.

Continue reading

Tears but no tears between France and Switzerland

Tears (to rhyme with airs). Tears (to rhyme with fears). Both words so alike and yet just a little different. It was the same with the French line-up against Switzerland. So alike – the same structure, the same back-line – and yet with Payet, Giroud and Kante a notable trio of absentees.

There was also much that was torn. Five, by my count, Swiss shirts (Mehmedi, Dzemaili, Xhaka, Embolo, and Xhaka again), Puma clearly accidentally showcasing their shirts-for-strippers version of the kit. You Can Leave Your Xhak On, if you will. Continue reading

Patience for Italy, and John Guidetti

It’s a hard thing to motivate yourself to write about a match which finished with 3 shots on target. It’s harder still when your aim is not to write some stifled piece of reportage (say it as if the word is French, to add some exciting Romance European exoticism to it) or tactical analysis, but a match story, transcending the fact to reach a higher, more powerful level. Fiction.

We don’t like the truth, we can’t (to quote the ancient wisdom of Sorkìn, circa 1990) handle it. Truth is normality, truth is dullness. Truth is necessary.

Football is not necessary. So we can be permitted to write about football as fiction. Continue reading

A Taste of Tournament Football

‘I’m close enough to Martin Skrtel to see him properly’

‘I’m close enough to Martin Skrtel to properly assess his game’

‘I’m close enough to Martin Skrtel to boo him, and for him to hear me’

The thought process of a centre-back watching Manchester United fan, as I realised just how close I was to a player I’d seen so many times on TV screens, so far away and abstract, as I sat in the corner of Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy. For the record, I didn’t boo him – although, sitting in the Russian end of the stadium, I would have been forgiven for doing so. Continue reading

Team Defensive Correlations: Opposition shots vs defensive actions

This is kind of a follow-up to the article a week or so ago based on individual players, which is here.

This time, I wanted to look at how making more defensive actions correlated with conceding fewer shots on a team level. I looked at the season averages of teams from  5 years of the Premier League (2015-16 to 2011-12).

Below is are the correlations for the raw stats (ie not adjusted in any way) Continue reading

Euro 2016: Through their Lens, the Fates bring Albania down to Earth

This was no Xhaka-on-Xhaka Battle for the House Keys, nor, probably, was it ever really going to be. It was, as it turned out, possibly a Battle for the Second Spot in Group A. Most people though were probably expecting a much more one-sided affair than they got.

There was a lot made before the match of the amount of players in the two squads who could have represented the other side. The Xhaka brothers – far less exciting in reality on the pitch than their names are to English ears – made history by being the first brothers to face each other on the pitch in the European Championships. This was not the story of this game. Continue reading