The tactics employed by Louis van Gaal have been laid bare by statistics that show more than 50 Premier League players have had more touches than Wayne Rooney this season, despite the captain being the busiest Manchester United player.
Rooney has had 1022 touches this term according to data compiled by Squawka, which is more than any of his team-mates. Yet incredibly, 53 other top-flight players have had more touches this season, with Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas having the most with nearly double the number of Rooney with 1899 touches.
The style of play employed under Van Gaal was highlighted earlier this week when figures at the mid-way stage of the season showed that Manchester United have become something of a long-ball team, attempting 1,701 long balls in the Premier League this season, an average of 77 per game. Only Burnley have tried more, with 80 per game.
In contrast to the other sides towards the top of the table, Arsenal attempt the least with 46 per game, in front of Manchester City (51), Liverpool (58) and Chelsea (59).
In terms of touches, Antonio Valencia has the second highest number at Manchester United this term with 980 and Juan Mata the third with 880. Rooney's fellow striker Robin van Persie has had nearly half the amount of the England captain with 561.
Angel Di Maria, signed for a British record fee of £59.7m has had 708 touches of the ball. That works out as £84,322-per-touch since his arrival from Real Madrid.
What counts as a touch? A ball touch is not actually every time a player touches the ball, but an addition of all of the on-the-ball events a player does – e.g. if a player touches the ball five times to take the ball past an opponent, this is counted as one "touch", because Squawka is counting the event of the take-on as one on-the-ball event. Events that are considered ball touches are as follows: Any type of pass, a Throw In, Any dead ball situation, a Take-On, a Tackle, an Interception, a Clearance, any Shot, any Block (cross, shot or pass), a won aerial duel.
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