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Manchester United Fans' Most Popular Starting 11

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Manchester United Fans' Most Popular Starting 11

Post by Garyalanlawro » 25 Mar 2014, 11:58

Manchester United fans’ most popular starting 11 so far this season consisted of David De Gea in goal, four defenders (Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Rafael), four midfielders (Juan Mata, Michael Carrick, Shinji Kagawa and Tom Cleverley), with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie upfront.

Beat Your Manager! Fantasy Football is similar to “Football Manager for live football”, where you manage your favourite Club and pick lineups, bench, formations and substitutions, all in real-time. By playing the game, we can get a picture of the fan popularity of different players, by looking at how frequently they are selected for the lineup.

So, what does the data tell us? Straight off, David De Gea was the clear fan favourite in goal, with an inclusion rating of 98%, with Anders Lindegaard soaking up the remaining paltry 2% of fan selections.

David De Gea and Juan Mata are jointly Man Utd’s most popular players – both selected for 98% of lineups for games in which they are available. By fan standards, Juan Mata has been a very popular purchase in the January transfer window, with his nearest competitor for midfield position, Michael Carrick, receiving a quarter less votes.

Patrice Evra was clearly United’s most popular defender (and 4th-most popular player) with 93% of fans picking him for the lineup, followed by Nemanja Vidic on 85%, Rio Ferdinand on 63% and Rafael on 52% approval ratings with fans. Johnny Evans ran Rafael close in the popularity stakes, with a 51% rating with fans.

After Juan Mata, Michael Carrick was United fans’ next-favourite candidate for midfield, with approval ratings of 78%. Shinji Kagawa and Tom Cleverley displayed very similar popularity scores, at 56% and 55%, respectively. After Cleverley, Marouane Fellaini (like Mata, his first season in a United shirt) was the next most popular midfielder, polling 50% popularity figures with fans.

Upfront, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie was clearly the most popular combination. Rooney was Man Utd’s 3rd-most popular player overall, with an 95% popularity rating, while van Persie was two places behind, on 87%. United’s two other strikers Welbeck (28%) and Hernández (20%), polled similar figures to each other, but were way behind the other two.
Other interesting points to note are the popularity (or lack of it) for former fan-favourites Nani (23%) and Ryan Giggs (17%) – both easily beaten by first-team regular Antonio Valencia (41%), but also by new-boy Adnan Januzaj (36%).

We have included all 11 players in a pitch-view on our blog (, where you can also access the data table ("Man Utd Fans Lineup data for all Players Aug.-Present"). The table lists the fan lineup choices for all games so far this season, organised by Week number, Date, Opposition Team and Home/Away fixture across the top. The rest of the table is taken up by percentages – these are the percentage of United fans playing Beat Your Manager! Fantasy Football who selected that player for their lineup for that match. The players are sorted by median popularity, rather than average - we could have used the average, but as some players register a zero percentage (0%: highlighted on data table) rating for some games (due to injury or suspension), we felt the median was a more reliable estimate.

We have ignored the ratings for Bebé, Ángelo Henriquez, Jesse Lingard, Nick Powell and Scott Wootton as they were available for very few matches and those results may not be an accurate estimate of their popularity. We also forgot to record the scores for the Sun. Sept. 1st match against Liverpool – sorry about that!

If you’d like to see Manchester United’s player ratings on a game-by-game basis, you can follow us on twitter or become a fan at You can play the game by searching for “Beat Your Manager” in the Appstore/Google Playstore or by following the link for Android ( or iPhone (

Thanks for reading!

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