Date: 22nd September 2009 at 7:16pm
Written by:

Hear, all ye fair folks: ye may rejoice as the Guardian finally, irresistibly proved that Manchester United are given more injury time at home when they need it.

The paper says that they ‘looked at all of United’s league matches at Old Trafford since the start of the 2006-07 season and discovered that, on average, there has been over a minute extra added by referees when United do not have the lead after 90 minutes, compared to when they are in front. In 48 games when United were ahead, the average amount of stoppage time was 191.35 seconds. In 12 matches when United were drawing or losing there was an average of 257.17sec.’

Oh how convincing. Except that it’s a whole load of rubbish, obviously. Consider a few things here.

United were ahead in 48 home games since the start of 2006/07, yes. In 18 of these games United were three or more goals up when ninety minutes passed. I cannot present statistical evidence but it must be fairly obvious to anyone who’s been watching football for a few years now that referees add more time when the game is closer. So it’s not a rarity at all that when we are 3 or 4 up there’s only one or two minutes of added time. Why torment the losing side longer?

You see, that kinda sways the stats about how much added time is given when United are ahead. In this period it only happened once that the opposition was leading so comfortably – I’m sure you all remember who and when.

And there’s another thing. It is a rarity that United waste time when they are ahead. When it’s a draw, however, the away side usually does every trick in the book to stop us getting into our stride – quite understandably. However, that leads to more added time IF the referee is competent. If timewasting is not punished by more injury time, that’s a refereeing error.