There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t log onto social media and find Owls and Blades arguing over who is better; Barry Bannan or John Fleck.
Who’s the better midfielder, vote Bannan or Fleck? Who should be in the Scotland team, Bannan or Fleck? It’s like a never ending Scot-off.
There’s no doubt that both are playing some excellent football this season and are instrumental in their respective team successes so far this season.
So let’s look at this dispassionately and seek the stats if we can’t see it through the tribal emotions.
According to WhoScored.com, Bannan and Fleck have both played 11 matches, Bannan 980 minutes on the pitch and Fleck 936 minutes. So far, so equal.
Bannan has produced two goals this season against Millwall and Stoke. Fleck has netted once this season in a 0-3 win against Bolton. They wouldn’t claim to be prolific and the stats back this up with both on 1.1 shots per game.
Bannan is certainly winning the bad discipline poll. Barry has picked up five yellow cards and a suspension already this season. Fleck is pulling his best Gary Lineker impression and hasn’t picked up any cards.
Bannan edges the pass success rate with 79.5 per cent and Fleck is there or thereabouts on 77.5 per cent.
In terms of this season’s stats you could get one of Bannan’s comb over hairs between them.
It won’t matter though, going into the Steel City Derby in a few weeks, the hyperbole will ramp up and the Scot-off will go into overdrive. Wednesdayites will always believe Bannan is superior and Blades will rate Fleck above any Owl.
It’s interesting to note that statistically this season Oliver Norwood for the Blades is more successful central midfielder than either Bannan or Fleck. With nine games, one goal, three assists and a pass rate of 86.2 per cent he has the third best stats in the Championship.
For the Owls Adam Reach is also a bigger threat statistically, albeit a different kind of midfield threat.
Statistics aren’t everything I know and until they go head-to-head we can’t be sure who will win the midfield battle but maybe it’s time to just agree that Barry Bannan and John Fleck are both admirable players.