Manchester United have started life after Sir Alex Ferguson very poorly. They have looked a shadow of the team that claimed the title comfortably last season. Robin van Persie’s influence in the team has waned, while new signing Marouane Fellaini has failed to find his footing. Van Persie’s shooting accuracy is down to 31.8% from 46% last year and his goals per game statistics are down to 0.5 from 0.68 last year. It may be too early to write off the champions so early in the season but the signs are worrying.
The worst start to a league campaign for over a decade is highlighting the enormity of the task in hand for David Moyes. The void left behind by Sir Alex Ferguson is difficult to fill and it may also be argued that David Moyes was handed a tough selection of fixture at the start of his tenure but the problems were evident even in the pre-season. Let us take a quick look at how the team has fared in the league thus far.
The dominant display at the Liberty Stadium appears to be a distant memory. The team has managed to win only two games out of their next 6; drawn 1 and lost 3. The resounding defeat at the Etihad Stadium was followed by a defeat at home against West Bromwich Albion. After being a goal down against Sunderland, Manchester United did well to secure a much required win and the fans of the club are hoping that this is perhaps the start of a turnaround in their league campaign. This week, I bring an in-depth statistical analysis of performances of a selection of Manchester United players.
I. Adnan Januzaj:
Adnan Januzaj has been the topic of discussion in the media because of the number of countries that he is eligible to play for. Onto football, the stats show just why everyone involved with Manchester United and English football is so excited about this youngster. In 3 league appearances, Januzaj has managed to score twice, with a shot every 16.11 minutes. Januzaj has attempted a pass every 1.94 minutes with an accuracy of 81% and managed a Final 3rd pass every 4.26 minutes with a success rate of 71%. The tackling statistics may not be very impressive but do not apply to this attacking midfielder he does, however, average a ground duel every 5.37 minutes.
Adnan is an exciting prospect and definitely a future super star. But it is too early to overburden him. It will be wise from the club to extend his contract immediately and give him some to mature as a player. If groomed properly, he could become an asset for the team in the times to come.
II. Michael Carrick:
Michael Carrick has played all seven games for Manchester United and has the best passing statistics in totality. Carrick’s passing rate and accuracy (1.08 and 86% respectively) are impressive but not amongst the top 10 as per EPL Index’s Top Stats, powered by Opta Stats. Nevertheless, Carrick has been solid for United, making 31 interceptions (the most by any Man Utd player), taken 2 shots, attempted 14 tackles and ground duels and aerial duels every 15.37 and 78.75 minutes respectively. In the attacking 3rd, Carrick has attempted a pass every 3.71 minutes with an accuracy of 74%.
Solid as ever, Carrick has been one of Manchester United’s best players this season. He has been influential but not as effective as he was when partnered with Paul Scholes. With more than 3/4th of the season still to play, Moyes may look to pair Carrick with Kagawa.
III. Marouane Fellaini:
Manchester United’s marquee signing has not lived up to the billing. He hasn’t looked even a part of the player that he was at Everton in the very limited game time that he has had at Old Trafford. However, Statistics show that his performance is not as bad as is made out to be. In 5 appearances (3 for Everton and 2 for Man Utd), Fellaini has attempted a pass every 1.07 minutes with an accuracy of 91% and a final 3rd pass every 3.26 minutes with an accuracy of 81%. In addition to this, Fellaini has attempted a Ground Duel every 8.75 minutes and an Aerial Duel every 14 minutes to go with a solitary interception. His attacking statistics are not very impressive. In 5 appearances, Fellaini has failed to provide an assist or create a clear-cut-chance and failed to score despite attempting a shot every 28 minutes.
Many would argue that Fellaini was a last resort buying for Manchester United and a touch too expensive. Keeping the price tag aside, they have a player with a lot of potential. The best of Fellaini is yet to come and only time will tell us whether or not he can become a regular starter for the team.
IV. Wayne Rooney:
Wayne Rooney has been the player of the season so far for Manchester United. Uncertainty regarding his future notwithstanding, Rooney has played 6 league games for the champions in the league and found the back of the net thrice with a shot every 28 minutes and provided 2 goal assists. Along with 4 interceptions and 3 tackles, Rooney also has a Ground Duel every 9.19 minutes and an Aerial Duel every 34.14 minutes. The passing accuracy of 75% may not be very impressive but understandable considering the variety of roles that he has assumed for the team, depending upon the situation.
Rooney has been criticised for trying to unsettle the team time and again by alleged transfer requests but despite the elevated stature of van Persie, Wayne Rooney is indispensable to Manchester United. The Red Devils’ best signing of the season could be to tie down Rooney to a new long-term contract. He has many more years of top class football left in him and is an asset for the club as well as country.
Let us now move onto some very interesting statistics that I have taken from EPL Index’s Top Stats, powered by Opta Stats.
None of the Manchester United players feature in the Top 10 Goal Scoring Stats. A situation to ponder upon for the manager and one of the reasons why the Red Devils are 6 points behind league leaders Arsenal and Liverpool. But the statistics that will concern the team management more than anything else is highlighted by the Top Creativity Stats. No Manchester Unitied player is placed in the Top 10 Stats for Creativity, also pinpointing the need for a world class creative player.
The title defence may “appear” to be over for Manchester United but the Red Devils have the knack of playing well after the 1st Quarter of the season. It is still early days in the league and a string of good performances could spur Manchester United into a title challenging position. The match against the Saints over the weekend will give us an indication whether or not Manchester United have the capability to defend their title.
Please note that the analysis and inferences drawn are based purely on statistics, which may not always correlate with the actual performances of the players. Some of you may have a different point of view or may look at the statistics differently, so feel free to share it with me here or on twitter (@SilverHawk_24).