On August 26, 2013 I was in a crowd of 75,032 at Old Trafford to watch David Moyes’ first home game as manager of Manchester United.

He got a huge ovation as he walked along the touchline for the match against Chelsea, but that was as good as it got.

The match was a tedious 0-0 affair and the Scot was sacked on April 22, 2014, after less than 10 months in the job.

I’m not a United fan but one of the games that really undermined his tenure was a 2-2 draw against Fulham on February 9. United had 81 crosses and failed to score from any of them.

So what’s this got to do with technology? This was one of the issues that was discussed at a breakfast event BusinessCloud held with Pro-Manchester this week.

One of the speakers was Sam Gregory, who works for the world’s leading live sports data provider Otpa.

Fans of Sky Sports will often see Opta’s statistical data at the end of the match.


Every game is watched by two members of staff and the information is uploaded on a database of more than 50 football leagues around the world.

Football clubs, media sources and analysts go to Opta if they want statistics about a particular player or club and the data throws up all sorts of interesting facts.

For example, earlier this season Man Utd managed a massive 37 shots in their goalless draw with Burnley, the most attempts United have registered since Opta’s records began.

READ MORE: Football club says technology is 12th man

All of this brings me back to United’s 2-2 draw with Fulham in February 2014.

The fact that United had 81 crosses without scoring prompted Sam Gregory to look at whether varying between different attacks was better than one-dimensional attacking.

He found that during a two-season period in the Premier League only 2.3 per cent of attacking crosses resulted in a goal – compared with 12.7 per cent of through balls and 1.7 per cent of long balls.

He concluded that clubs shouldn’t vary attacks for the sake of it, but if you’re good at something then getting even better is the way to go.

Playing to your strengths is common sense and as relevant for running a business as it is for running a football club.

What’s clear is that technology can help improve decision-making processes and increase your chances of success.

If only David Moyes had known that!

Read the full report on the 'Technology in sport' breakfast in the next edition of BusinessCloud magazine, out next week. Subscribe for free here.