Manchester United – The Endless Whipped Balls Into The Box….Is Crossing Effective?

First I turned off the game thinking United beat Fulham this weekend.  To my disbelief United let Fulham back into the game and drew 2-2!  United literally had all the possession and possession in Fulham’s attacking third.  So what went wrong.  If you look at the stats in soccer most assists and goals are generated within the penalty box.  The next most assists and goals are from an 18 yard box extending directly from the actual 18 yard box.  Just imagine two penalty boxes stacked on top of each other.  That is literally where teams score over 90% of their goals from and get their assists as well.  The percentage of goals from crosses when the defense is set and bunkered in is like 2 or 3%.  I know that sounds crazy but it is the truth (I do not think corner kicks are in that equation but goals from corners are pretty low % as well).  It is different if the defense is not set and running back towards goal during a counter attack.  On a quick counter, balls whipped in behind the recovering defenders are a good percentage ball.  However, take a look at Chelsea’s great goal with Hazard this weekend.  They could have hit an early cross but they combined in the box quickly to create an awesome goal.  The point of all this is Manchester United has the players to break people down in the box.  They don’t have to whip endless balls into the box and hope and pray.  Draw the defense out and stretch them wide.  Play around them with combination play and penetrate the box.  I know Fulham had literally a line of 5 and another of 4 within 24 yards of goal.  I get that.  Use multiple approaches to break them down.  Possess the ball and combine in the box.  Then once in a while whip the cross in.  Maybe drop off when you lose possession and draw Fulham out of their end if possible.  I understand it is not easy to do but United have the quality on the field to figure it out.  I am starting to question Moyes and how much he is holding back their creativity.  If you watch Valencia’s body language before going in the game when Moyes was speaking to him, it was poor.  Again, I respect Moyes but he is starting to lose his players.  They are frustrated and not buying into his whipping the ball in system.  Hopefully they turn it around but  who knows.  They should take a look at Liverpool in attack and study them.  Thats modern football and Rodgers is onto something.  He just needs to fix the defense.  If Moyes studies Jose and Brendan maybe United can get some results.  I will leave you with this thought.  Possession means very very little unless you are the old Barcelona team.  Arsenal had the greater possession against Liverpool this weekend and lost 5-1.  United had way way more possession and tied Fulham this weekend and tied.  If your a coach do not get stuck on the possession %.  It literally means very little.  Meaningful possession to me is possession that ends with shot on goal from inside the box or slightly outside that the keeper must save. It might mean possession that lead to penetrating run into the box or possession that led to a set piece in the attacking third.   If you place a value on meaning full possession than thats a new stat that would make sense and show me what teams are being effective with their possession.

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