Statistical Analysis: Man United Under Moyes


Man United's chances of winning the Premier League have dropped from 28% pre-season to 14% currently, if bookmaker odds are a guide. Today Barrie offers his statistical analysis of Man United's start to the season.

Wednesday 8 May was a tough day for Manchester United fans. The greatest manager the Premier League, the English football league and one of the best the world has ever seen, Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement.

David Moyes was the early front runner for the job and a few days after the vacancy had come up, the Everton manager had agreed to take on the daunting task, with very little fight from the Merseyside club in trying to keep their manager.

Winning the Community Shield 2-0 against Championship side Wigan Athletic and then opening the Premier League with a 4-1 thrashing of Swansea City in Wales, optimism was once back in the mind of many Manchester United fans.

However, just 2 wins in their following 6 Premier League matches has dented their chances of defending the title they won by 11 points last season.

Moyes signed a 5-year contract and immediately brought in his own coaching staff. Manchester United started the season as third favourites for the league, and with the big money spent by Manchester City and Chelsea in recent seasons, United fans may not be expecting to win the title in their first season under the new manager.

Performance and Expectations

There must however be concerns over a number of players being just a shadow of themselves to start the new season. Whilst Wayne Rooney has been the driving force in a number of games this season and joint top league scorer, it is worth noting he has not scored from open play in the Premier League so far this season.

Robin van Persie has scored just 1 goal since the opening day of the season – that was a penalty against Crystal Palace.

The defending has been atrocious at times – particularly noticeable in their defeats to Manchester City (4-1) and West Bromwich Albion (2-1).

Rio Ferdinand has made 6 appearances this season, and after strong performances versus Swansea City, Liverpool and Crystal Palace to start the season, the former England captain had a shocker versus Manchester City and then beaten easily by Morgan Amalfitano for West Brom’s opener in the following game.

Marouane Fellaini was the first central midfielder signing in a number of years by Manchester United, but before making his debut had received a lot of criticism. The price and the quality of the player were the main concerns shared by many, including myself.

I do not consider the Belgian to be of the level of quality Manchester United desire and have had over the years. He’s not a playmaker that they were looking for to replace Paul Scholes. I am surprised they did not go in for either Mesut Özil or Christian Eriksen who were snapped up by Premier League side’s this summer.

If Fellaini was brought in for his goalscoring ability that he showed for Moyes at Everton, the Belgian is yet to score or really threaten in a United shirt. Admittedly it’s very, very early days. But also, he’s played a deeper role in midfield so far at Old Trafford.

This signing came after being linked to Cesc Fàbregas, Thiago Alcântara and Ander Herrera which suggested Moyes was looking for a playmaker. So far Shinji Kagawa has seemingly been snubbed by the new manager.

On the wings where Manchester United have had a number of creative players over the years, and currently in their squad. However neither Ashley Young or Antonio Valencia have put much quality in from the flanks out wide. Patrice Evra has been more creative attacking from left back whilst Adnan Januzaj scored twice in his first start on the left wing.

One player who does look in form this season is Wayne Rooney. After strong rumours he wanted to leave over the summer, the England international has showed a number of determined efforts and is currently the club’s joint top scorer.

Here’s a look at how Manchester United have started the season statistically:

Slow Start Under David Moyes

It goes without saying that Manchester United have made a slow start under David Moyes – in ninth position after 7 games having already been beaten three times this season (Liverpool, Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion).

Manchester United won 9 of their first 11 Premier League games last season as they ran away with the league. They had 15 points from their opening seven games under Sir Alex Ferguson, compared to 10 under the same number of games under David Moyes.

Here are how the head-to-head records compare to last season:

Manchester United’s victory at Swansea on the opening day was an improvement on last season’s 1-1 draw at the Liberty Stadium, in which a few supporters were keen to point out. The 0-0 home draw against Chelsea seemed like a fine result at the time but should not be considered a significant improvement on last season’s 1-0 home loss as the title had already been wrapped up by then.

Robin van Persie scored the winning penalty at Anfield last season but neither he or any of his team mates could get on the scoresheet this season as they were beaten 1-0 by rivals Liverpool. It was the second consecutive game Manchester United had not scored in at the time – they only failed to score in a total of 3 games for the entirety of last season.

The West Brom game came as a surprise defeat this season after overcoming a tough battle last season to take all 3 points. Manchester United picked up 48 points from a possible 57 at Old Trafford last season; they have already dropped 5 from their opening three games this time around.

Shots per Game/Goals

Manchester United had 20 different goalscorers last season – a Premier League record. After 7 games in 2013-14, only four different players have registered on the scoresheet. Of those, only Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney have scored in more than one game.

Robin van Persie has been the league’s top scorer for the past two seasons but is currently 3 behind Daniel Sturridge who has top scored to this point. All 3 of Wayne Rooney’s goals have come from free kicks – a credit to the England star’s ability to convert them, but perhaps a concern to David Moyes and Manchester United fans that the forward has not scored in open play in his first 6 league games of the season.

Last season, van Persie was averaging a shot every 22 minutes and Rooney every 23 minutes – both players are down on their attempts on goal per game so far this season.

Chances Created/Playmakers

After Manchester United were strongly linked with Everton’s Leighton Baines over the summer, Patrice Evra’s future at Old Trafford remained in doubt. The failure to sign the England international has seen Evra start 6 of Manchester United’s first 7 Premier League games this season. The French international has not let the team down bombing forward by creating the most chances for the club. His assist came for Adnan Januzaj’s equaliser in the 2-1 victory at Sunderland last time out.

As well as scoring 3 goals this season, Wayne Rooney has created two. Both came in the opening day 4-1 victory at Swansea City.

Antonio Valencia is the winger with the most chances created for Manchester United this season. Nani and Ashley Young have chipped in with 4 each.

Successful Dribbles

Manchester United’s wingers have been attacking opposition defenders with their runs this season. Portuguese winger Nani leads the time with 13 successful take-ons in his 194 minutes this season. However, Nani has only created 4 chances this season, implying that his runs don’t lead to setting up chances for his team mates all too often.

Adnan Januzaj has impressed in his 145 minutes this season. He has successfully dribbled past opponents on 10 occasions during his three matches. Has scored 2 goals and won a free kick in which Wayne Rooney scored from versus Crystal Palace.

Defensive Contributions

Nemanja Vidić is averaging a clearance every 7 minutes this season – down on his average of one every 8 minutes last season. The Serbian centre-back is amongst the top tackles at Manchester United too with only centre midfielders Tom Cleverley (14) and Michael Carrick (11) getting stuck in more times this season.

Michael Carrick has unsurprisingly made the most interceptions for Manchester United this season – but his 31 is 8 more than Crystal Palace’s Mile Jedinak who is second in the Premier League. The England international has not made a significant number of clearances this season, but rather the composed player offloads the ball to a team mate nearby instead. Carrick’s defensive contribution has certainly been noticeable in the heart of the United team.

Fouls Committed

Wayne Rooney has committed the most fouls in the Manchester United team this season and has already bridged a gap between himself and Antonio Valencia and Robin van Persie who rank next on the list.

Michael Carrick has received 3 yellow cards for 6 fouls this season and leads the team in that category. Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia, Tom Cleverley and Ashley Young have all received 2 cautions this season.

Of the 4 players to have received a yellow card for diving in the Premier League this term, Manchester United have received half of these (Ashley Young versus Crystal Palace and Adnan Januzaj versus Sunderland).


David de Gea is the only goalkeeper to have appeared for Manchester United this season. The Spaniard has locked down the number 1 position at Old Trafford since early December last year.

The Manchester United goalkeeper ended last season with 10 clean sheets in 17 Premier League matches but has started life under David Moyes with just 2 in 7 so far.


Current Manchester United Odds - Odds as at 18th October 2013.

 Opening Oddsbet365WinnerLadbrokesWilliamHillBetVictor
Win Premier League 3.60 7.00 7.00 6.50 6.50 7.50
Top 4 Finish 1.12 1.44 1.44 1.33 1.44 1.50
To Win Champions League 15.00 17.00 17.00 17.00 17.00 17.00




Data provided by Opta Sports

Follow Barrie on Twitter: @BarriesView

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Premier League blogger, statistician and fan.