Opta Jury: Alan Smith
By Paul Townley
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Has Alan Smith been a hit, a miss or is the jury still out?
Alan Smith's defection to Old Trafford last summer was a bitter pill to swallow for the Leeds United fans already faced with the prospect of playing outside of the Premiership for the first time since its formation.
Since scoring on his league debut at Anfield, Smith went on to make 172 Premiership appearances for the Elland Road club, scoring 38 goals in the process.
The England international's spell at Manchester United began well, as he scored two goals in United's first three league fixtures. Injuries to Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy elevated Smith to United's main attacking threat for their opening encounters and the £7 million pound striker appeared to be settling comfortably into his new surroundings.
However, circumstances worked against Smith as United were unable to name a settled team and did not choose the same starting XI for successive league games until December. By the end of the 38-game schedule, Sir Alex Ferguson had made an average of over three amendments per game to his starting line-up, the most in the league.
With such a high turnover of personnel, Smith became one of the few regulars in the United side. The 24-year old played in each of The Red Devils' first 22 Premiership games stretching to the start of January, the only United player to do so.
Smith's low point in a red shirt came when he was dismissed for two yellow cards in the Manchester derby. Despite this, Smith has committed far fewer fouls since his move, averaging a foul every 40 minutes in Manchester, compared with one every 32 minutes with his previous employers.
The biggest improvement in United's number 14 play has been his passing. In the last two seasons, Smith has averaged the same pass completion as his team overall, demonstrating that the step up to the upper echelons of The Premiership was not beyond the fiery forward.
But ultimately Smith will be judged on his goals, and this season he produced just six in the league. However, while this sounds a poor return for a Premiership striker, only two United players (Rooney 11 and Scholes nine) scored more often in the league last term. Indeed, Smith finished level with United's Dutch goal machine, van Nistelrooy, who also struggled with rotating partners.
With the sweeping changes taking place behind the scenes at Manchester United, their loyal following will be hoping that the playing staff with rally together to produce performances worthy of the multi-million pound deals that have taken place this summer.
|Team||Leeds United||Manchester United|
|Minutes On Pitch||3,141||2,037|
|Goal Attempts|| || |
|Shots On Target||34||25|
|Shots Off Target||41||33|
|Passing|| || |
|Pass Completion %||69%||82%|
|Crossing|| || |
|Cross Completion %||23%||26%|
|Dribbling|| || |
|Dribbles & Runs||155||67|
|Dribble Completion %||47%||51%|
|Defending|| || |
|Tackles Won %||71%||75%|
|Discipline|| || |
What do you think? Has Smith been a hit, a miss or is the jury still out? Send us your views and we will publish a selection on the site in Opta Jury.