Figures can't tally Rooney's worth

Figures can't tally Rooney's worth

Do you sometimes feel that football today is at risk of being de-humanised by a mania for applying statistics to almost every act that a player makes - short of how many times he breathes during a game?

A warning: There will be essential bits of arithmetic in this preview of the Manchester derby this evening - but only a few.

We need to appreciate that this is the first time Manuel Pellegrini has managed City, and the first time David Moyes has selected a United side for the derby that divides Manchester.

It is, as Pellegrini says, something unique, something rather special, even by the standards of Buenos Aires, where he once felt unsafe to leave his apartment for a week after a Boca Juniors vs River Plata encounter.

But here, in his first season in England, Pellegrini knows only that the quickening of pulse infects every part of Manchester.

His team, the Premier League champions of 2012, lie in wait for United, the reigning champions.

There are huge personal contests everywhere.

There is one in midfield between physical giants Yaya Toure and Marouane Fellaini.

There is one in the goalmouth where defenders will stretch every sinew, and every ounce of concentration, trying to subdue the likes of Sergio Aguero on one side, Robin van Persie on the other.

And there is also one on the flanks where the extraordinary pace of Jesus Navas is a new test for the Red Devils' full-backs, but Antonio Valencia has rediscovered his mojo too, after a year that reflected his broken ankle and the self-doubt that a player feels.

That is the point of my disaffection with statistics.

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