You don't need a maths degree to know that the only statistic that really matters is the one that we look for in on Final Score.
In the age of information overload, football is no different from any other sport or TV show. But these days, it's almost impossible to watch a game and not feel like you need to be plugged into the Matrix in order to keep fully abreast of what's really happening. How many passes has Xavi completed? Did Ibrahimovic really make fewer passes than the goalkeeper? How many strands of hair has Rooney had implanted?
Dave tries to watch the game while tweeting and blogging...
But how much of it really matters? Is there too much reliability on them? We see Sam Allardyce with his headsets and Prozone, and perhaps see the irony that his teams have a somewhat agricultural reputation. Nowadays everything is analysed so much, it almost removes the human factor that makes football so great. Arsenal didn't have a single shot on goal away to Barcelona in 2011, yet were a Nicklas Bendtner balls-up away from an away goal which probably would have seen them progress.
52 attempts and he still wouldn't score
We have a wealth of information online that gives that extra dimension, that makes you see the beautiful game in a different way. Zonal Marking shows the how tactics work in real life. OptaJoe on Twitter has a wealth of data on all sorts that would make a time-travelling spread better weep. The Premier League have even launched a Twitter feed that lists the weekend's referees, in plenty of time for fans to get their excuses in early, I'm sure Ryan Babel can sleep safely now.
But sometimes there is just nothing that can really explain those great, sometimes unanswerable debates. Messi v Ronaldo, Pele v Maradona. The debate that keeps on going, that no amount of data or opinion will ever fully conclude. Or those moments that will dumbfound you because that's the way it is. John Barnes' goal against Brazil, or Gascoigne's challenge in the 91 cup final that just seemed so random.
One thing's for sure. No matter how many fouls Mark van Bommel commits in a game, or how many successful dribbles Messi makes... You don't need a maths degree to know that the only statistic that really matters is the one that we look for in on Final Score. And hope that when it says 8 (EIGHT), that your team are the winners...
And do we really want our managers to be robots? To rely totally on technology? Do what Paul Ince does, and just write down the first thing that comes into your head...
Ince's magazine shopping list