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I was watching the big Manchester derby with my friends on Monday and was gob smacked when the fourth official indicated there were to be a minimum of 5 minutes of added time to be played! United were 1-0 down at the time and were becoming increasingly desperate for an equaliser. Flicking back over the game I could barely muster 3 minutes of stoppages and that was being kind! In the end the ref played over 6 minutes of stoppage time (and yes I know the City keeper wasted a bit of time in the last minute).
Anyway it got me thinking (again) about Fergie time and decided to conduct a bit of research. I realised that the BBC text commentary is recorded by the exact second so I had a gander at United's most recent 6 games as it seemed to be a fair balance since they had won three and drawn or lost the other three. I wanted to see if there really was a correlation between the score as of 90 minutes, and the amount of added minutes. (And I am not talking about the minutes shown on the board, I'm talking about the time the referee finally blows the whistle)
I wanted to know if, on average, there were more added minutes played if Manchester United were chasing a game than the number of added minutes if they were in the lead at the 90 minute mark. My results astounded even me!
Here is what I discovered!
Based on Manchester United's last 6 games.
Added time with Man Utd losing or drawing (at 90)...
Man City (final whistle = 96 mins 51 seconds) (losing 1-0)
Everton (final whistle = 95 mins 26 seconds) (drawing 4-4)
Wigan (final whistle = 95 mins 12 seconds) (losing 1-0)
Man Utd winning (at 90)...
Villa (final whistle = 94 mins 08 seconds)
QPR (final whistle = 93 mins 01 seconds)
Blackburn (final whistle = 93 mins 18 seconds)
When winning an average of 209 seconds of injury time.
When losing or drawing an average of 350 seconds injury time played.
(times from official bbc website match reports live text)
There are probably other factors involved in every match which can't really be accounted for here so the only fair way to do the calculation was to take a sample of all the games and treat them in the same way to see what came up. I think if the time added on was not related to the score at the full time whistle you would expect a closer relation between the two sets of results on average. You might suggest that the sample was too small - but there is one problem with that argument. The Guardian Newspaper conducted their own study over four full seasons, and guess what they found... (click here)