STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2014

So, my football watching is over for 2014. Time to look back at the year just gone. And what better way to do it than with a load of stats.

Games : 54

Goals Seen : 164

Red Cards : 17 (includes Rhys Marshall getting sent-off after the final whistle, but not Gary Hamilton being sent-off as a substitute before he entered the field)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 4

Hat-Tricks : 1 (Robin Van Persie, Manchester United v Olympiacos)

Teams Seen : 37

Accrington Stanley (1st time), AIK Solna (1st time), Ards, B36 Torshavn, Ballinamallard United, Ballyclare Comrades (1st time), Ballymena United, Bangor, Bray Wanderers (1st time), Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Cowdenbeath (1st time), Crusaders, Drogheda United, Dungannon Swifts, Everton (1st time), Exeter City (1st time), Faroe Islands, Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders, Heart Of Midlothian, Hibernian, Hull City (1st time), Institute, Leyton Orient (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Olympiacos (1st time), Peterborough United (1st time), Portadown, Real Madrid, Sevilla (1st time), Tottenham Hotspur, Warrenpoint Town,

Stadiums Visited : 19

Ballymena Showgrounds, Brisbane Road (1st time), Cardiff City Stadium (1st time), Carlisle Grounds (1st time), Coleraine Showgrounds, Crown Ground (1st time), Drumahoe (1st time), Ferney Park, Milltown (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, The Oval, Tynecastle, White Hart Lane (1st time), Windsor Park

Competitions : 15

County Antrim Shield, European Championship, European Cup, European Super Cup (1st time), FA Premier League, Football League One (1st time), Football League Two (1st time), Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship, League Of Ireland, Northern Ireland League Cup, Scottish Championship (1st time), Steel and Sons Cup, UEFA Cup

Curiousities :

No real curiosities this year. There were two twins on opposing sides, but i’d already seen it. Other than that, a player setting up a goal with no boots. It was a poor year for curiousities.

UEFA 100 Club : Everton, Sevilla (now at 32 clubs)

2014 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March began for me in Ballymena, seeing Linfield take on Crusaders in the delayed (from December 2013) County Antrim Shield Final.

Didn’t get many good shots, and the trophy presentation was ruined by the part-time idiots invading the pitch. Standard.

The following Saturday, it was Shamrock Park bound to see Linfield take on Portadown.

Seven days later, it was football again, to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

The next day, I was out on my bike, for a long overdue Street Art round-up, mainly consisting of murals of dogs.

That midweek, I was Old Trafford bound to see Manchester United beat Olympiacos 3-0 to reach the Quarter-Finals of the European Cup. It was my second, and as turned out, last, time seeing a David Moyes United team. To be honest, at the time, I had a suspicion that would be the case.

After a long bus trip to Old Trafford, it was back on the buses that weekend, heading to Coleraine to see Linfield draw 0-0 with the home team.

The final football match of the month was not a good one, watching Linfield lose 3-1 to Cliftonville, a result which would ultimately go on to cost them the title.

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Dogs

Manchester United v Olympiacos

Manchester United v Olympiacos Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Cliftonville

PHOTO OF THE SEASON 2013-2014

So, another football season is over, time to look back. It’s taken in four countries and various stadiums, teams and levels. There was a lot of pictures, so here are my favourites. Feel free to vote for yours :

FUGLAFJORDUR

Taken just after the final whistle of Linfield’s match with Fuglafjordur as fans applauded, the composition and framing just works for me which is why I love the photo.

SKODA

Taken before Linfield’s match with Skoda Xanthi, again, the composition and the light works for me, as supporters walk to The Kop, ready for the 90 (well, in this match, it was 120) minutes that await.

JEFFREY

Like the other two, it’s all about the composition, as David Jeffrey observes the action during a pre-season match against Derriaghy CC

RICHMOND

Taken during my trip to Dublin, I took in a St Patrick’s Athletic game. The colours just make this photo for me, as is the fact you came see a rainbow over the stadium.

CAMERAS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Portugal match, the two cameras, focused on the action in sync does it for me, alongside the composition of the players, so small in comparison with their surroundings.

BRISBANE ROAD

I’m a sucker for arty pics of football stadiums. I took this during a trip to London, when I took in a match at Leyton Orient.

THE OVAL

Linfield fans looking on, under the floodlights, as their side has a free-kick against Glentoran at The Oval.

ROONEY

Manchester United fans looking on as Wayne Rooney prepares to take a free-kick against Olympiacos.

SEAVIEW

Linfield fans looking one at a match at Seaview. Seaview is always good for photos.

BLUE

Arty one, take of seats in the South Stand at Linfield’s last game at Windsor Park before redevelopment, which the South Stand will be one of the main areas getting redeveloped.

CLARKE

Taken on the last day of the league season, love the composition, especially of the two players, one with the ball, and one trying to win the ball back,

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – MARCH

March for me began in Ballymena, for the (much delayed) County Antrim Shield Final between Linfield and Crusaders. Bit of a novelty this one, being in the home end, where they had a plaque to proudly show off that their toilets have a Gold Award. I didn’t get any photos of that, you’ll be glad to hear.

I got some match photos. Would have been nice to get some trophy photos, but unfortunately the usual problem of idiots invading the pitch and ruining it for everyone else put paid to that.

A few days later, back on the road again, Portadown bound, to see Linfield secure a 2-1 win. And yes, I was in the ground in time to see Andrew Waterworth score after 18 seconds.

The following Saturday, I was back at Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon.

The following midweek, more travelling, to Old Trafford to see United take on Olympiacos, turning around a 0-2 defecit to go through 3-0 on aggregate.

More travelling the following weekend, to Coleraine, for a 0-0 draw. Got some good photos though.

I finished the month with the top of the table clash between Linfield and Cliftonville. The less said of that, the better.

Crusaders v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Manchester United v Olympiacos

Manchester United v Olympiacos Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Cliftonville

MANCHESTER UNITED 3-0 OLYMPIACOS 19.3.2014

Having seen Linfield eliminated from the UEFA Cup by Skoda Xanthi, I looked set to witness a double dose of Greek heartbreak as Olympiacos arrived at Old Trafford on Wednesday night defending a 2-0 lead. Thankfully, it didn’t turn out that way.

It was my second trip to Old Trafford this season, and obviously, my second game seeing Moyes United. I have a suspicion that, despite this result, there’ll be a different manager in charge of my next visit, next season.

I like Moyes, and want him to succeed, but he doesn’t help himself. He’s had some very harsh on the job learning this season, getting caught out in press conferences, his uninspiring demeanour, down to the point of seeing him slouched down on the bench when United are behind, instead of standing on the touchline, trying to inspire his team.

I have a feeling he’ll be replaced the day after the final game of the season at Southampton. Though, we’re all hoping the final game of the season will come in Lisbon.

It was obvious that United were going to need an early goal if they were to turn this tie around, and had some situations. The most frustrating was when a Wayne Rooney header hit the post, only for an Olympiacos defender to get to the ball first.

In any other season, it would have went in off the keeper’s head when it hit the post. In any other season, someone would have put the rebound in.

I was sat in the corner of the Stretford End and the South Stand, having a perfect view of the game. I also had a perfect view of where it wasn’t going right for United.

The main one, was indecisiveness in attack. Too many attacks were ended by the wrong pass, too short a pass or too late a pass, much to the frustration of the crowd.

On 22 minutes, United got the chance to take the lead, when Robin Van Persie was fouled in the box. It was a clear penalty, but the ref waited a while to give it. For Robin Van Persie to take the penalty, he had to wait even longer.

It added to the tension and nervousness in the stadium. When he took it, he scored.

As United looked for that 2nd goal, Olympiacos looked vulnerable in defence. They looked like a team who could be “Got at”

However, it was Olympiacos who had the net chance. A free header from a cross was saved by De Gea, but it looked like they would score from the rebound, but De Gea stood firm and saved it. It was celebrated like a goal, such was the importance of it.

The first-half seemed to meander, but there was one last twist. As the 4th official indicated there was 1 minute remaining, United upped the pace. Giggs passed to Rooney, who could only do one thing – whip in a cross into the 6 yard area.

That he did, and found Robin Van Persie. 2-0.

It was a goal that changed the mood and the momentum of the tie.

Instead of being part of the way towards achieving their goal, United had now achieved Stage 1 – Getting level on aggregate.

United could now start the second-half looking to win the tie, instead of getting level. They weren’t slow on the uptake. On 52 minutes, Danny Welbeck won a free-kick on the edge of the box.

From where I was sat, as Rooney and Van Persie sat around the ball, it looked perfectly set up for a Van Persie strike. You just had a feeling you’d be celebrating a Van Persie goal within seconds.

And so, it happened. A hat-trick for Van Persie.

Unfortunately, the 3-0 lead brought about the worst in United, sitting back and inviting Olympiacos forward, instead of trying to make it 4-0 or 5-0, which would have made the final minutes more relaxed.

So defensive, there were times when Ashley Young was getting possession, having nobody to pass it to, and losing it.

I got nervous everytime Olympiacos went over the half-way line. It could just be my natural pessimism, but recent history backed it up, with late goals proving so costly against Southampton, Cardiff and Fulham this season.

In truth, Olympiacos never looked like getting the away goal that would have sent them through, as United saw the game out.

At least it gives something to play for in the final stages of what has been a pitiful season so far.

It’ll be tough against Bayern Munich in the Quarter-Final, but, if you’re not in, you can’t win.

Photo Album