Statistical analysis of Man United under Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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At the end of week 34 in the Premier League, Manchester United find themselves out of the Champions League spots and in sixth position in the table.

They are two points off Arsenal and Chelsea, with Unai Emery’s men claiming the fourth spot due to a superior goal difference.

Before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as interim boss, United were further adrift from the top-four. Jose Mourinho’s United were also in sixth place before he got the sack, but fourth placed Chelsea were then 11 points clear off the Red Devils.

With both managers having managed the team for 17 games, this is a good time for a statistical analysis of how the team fared under the two managers.

SOLSKJAER HAS A POINT

Firstly, the Red Devils have amassed 12 more points under Solskjaer than they did under Mourinho. They achieved this by registering a superior goal difference (+15).

Under the Portuguese, United scored 29 and found 29 replies.

The 29 goals that were scored under Mourinho came at an xG (expected goals) of 28.22. This means that the goal-scorers did justice to all the chances that were created for them.

On the other hand, Solskjaer’s United scored 34 goals at an xG of just 24.98. Clearly, the goal-scorers have been more clinical in front of goal in the second half of the season.

The attack has stepped up significantly, but the manner in which the defence has slowly gotten into shape is worth noting.

Under Mourinho, they conceded 29 goals when xGA (expected goals against) data suggests they should have conceded about 26 goals. However, in the next 17 games, they have recorded an xGA of just 19.65.

The significant decline is evidence that the defence is not allowing the opposition to take shots from more promising areas.

The fact that they have conceded just 19 while doing so shows that goalkeeper David De Gea has had a better time under Solskjaer when compared to his time under Mourinho this season.

We had earlier used xPTS (expected points) to analyse the luck factor in Borussia Dortmund’s season. A similar approach shows that Solskjaer has had his share of luck, too.

In the first 17 games, xPTS data says that United should have bagged 23.92 (or 24) points. But in reality, they managed to pick up 26 points, with ‘luck’ accounting for the two points.

It could be worse, @manchesterunited fans. You could still have Mourinho 😬

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The luck factor was further enhanced under Solskjaer, with United garnering 38 points against an expected 31.71 (or 32) points. It’s fair to say that the Red Devils have their fortunes to thank for, for about six of the 38 points.

The numbers have laid it down clearly – United are more polished in attack and sturdier in defence under Solskjaer.

Regardless of the league position and the fact that they are slowly withering down, Solskjaer has significantly lifted United and steadied the ship.

PLAYER POWER

Needless to say, the performance of the players has improved even at an individual level. Scoring at a rate of 0.59 goals per 90 minutes, Paul Pogba has been one of the most improved players under Solskjaer.

In the first 17 games, Pogba was scoring at a rate of just 0.24 goals every 90 minutes. An argument could be made for how most of his goals have come from the spot.

However, it does not take away the extent of his resurgence.

The quantity and quality of chances created by the Frenchman every game should serve as evidence as to why his revival under Solskjaer is real and not just a smokescreen. While he used to average 1.42 key passes every 90 minutes under the Portuguese manager, he has taken it up a notch, producing 1.9 key passes every game under the new manager.

The fact that he has pumped up his xA90 (expected assist per 90 minutes) from 0.12 under Mourinho to 0.21 under Solskjaer shows that the quality of the chances he creates has also gone up significantly.

Rashford is another player who has levelled up under Solskjaer. His scoring rate has increased from 0.32 to 0.54 goals per 90 minutes with the change in manager.

The Englishman’s playmaking abilities have also seen a rise under the Norwegian manager. He now averages an xA90 of 0.24 per 90 minutes, 0.1 more than he used to under Mourinho.

The immediate reaction to that stat would be to check if he has been playing a deeper role and involving himself in build-up more often. Sure enough, Rashford’s xGBuildup90 (a measure of his role in build-up play) has increased by more than 100 percent from 0.11 to 0.28.

United have now lost six of their last eight games in all competitions, but the data here shows how Solskjaer has clearly out-performed Mourinho and has also succeeded in bringing out more from two of the best outfield players of the club.

Solskjaer is on the right path, he just needs time and a players of higher quality.

Stats from understat.com

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Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial on path to stardom but one has more secure Man United future

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Are Rashford and Martial still on the path to superstardom?

With Manchester United set for a second straight season without silverware, all signs point to a big summer overhaul from newly-installed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Norwegian has spoken of the investment it will take to rebuild the squad so that it bridges the gap to clubs like Barcelona, who dumped United out of the Champions League this week.

While part of the rebuild will involve bringing in new players, Solskjaer and the rest of the club hierarchy will need to make cold, ruthless decisions about the ones already at the club.

Here, we look at how likely the current strikers at United are to remain at Old Trafford beyond this summer. Check out our analysis of the club’s goalkeepers, defenders, and midfielders as well.

Marcus Rashford

The only thing that could see Marcus Rashford leave his boyhood club is if the potential impasse during contract negotiations becomes reality. Rashford is reportedly seeking a new deal worth £200,000 per week, a wage United may feel the player hasn’t quite earned yet.

And whatever happens they are in the market for forward options this summer, which could see Rashford’s playing time reduced. His composure and finishing remain issues but, at 21, he still has time to iron those out, and Solskjaer admires the young Englishman. His combination of talent and determination should help him remain a fixture at United for the years to come.

Likelihood of staying: 10/10

Anthony Martial

Between Rashford and Anthony Martial, the Frenchman is arguably the more talented player. There’s a reason United agreed to a Ballon d’Or clause in his transfer when making him the then-most expensive teenager in history upon signing him from Monaco in 2015.

Yet there’s also a feeling that Rashford applies himself better and has less of a tendency to go missing in games. The impression that he is permanently sulking, like a new-age Nicolas Anelka, doesn’t help, though even the original Le Sulk ended up being an excellent striker. If Martial can focus on harnessing his potential in a similar way, United will reap the benefits.

Likelihood of staying: 8/10

Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez’s gravest sin as a United player may not be his failure to have any lasting impact, as injuries and a decline in form have reduced him to a frustrating, ineffective footballer. No, the bigger concern is the wages he’s on, which depending on reports are anything between £350,000 and £400,000 per week.

He is United’s highest-paid player by far, which makes negotiations almost impossible with those of his team-mates, like David De Gea and Paul Pogba, who think that status should reside with them. What that means is even if Sanchez does find form, and that already looks like a huge if, he still would be the player who blew up United’s wage structure and made every player demand more money  – perhaps more than United could afford.

Compounding the issue, the Chilean’s wages also make him difficult to sell. And in any case, he’s a 30-year-old who looks like his best form is behind him, which might deter suitors. United will no doubt be trying to cut their losses this summer.

Likelihood of staying: 4/10

Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku had the best season of his career in his debut campaign at United, then went to the World Cup and was one of Belgium’s most important players, and then got struck by second-season syndrome at the club. He’s had two separate runs of six games without a goal, another eight-game goalless streak, and currently hasn’t scored in his last five.

When Solskjaer replaced Mourinho he instantly returned the club to playing with traditional pace and incision and Lukaku – who’d bulked up over the summer – simply looked too clunky and static. He has slimmed down in the last few months and shown flashes of the powerful, pacey and prodigious finisher from his Everton days, but he’s just so streaky, that you wonder whether he can really become an iconic United striker.

On the face of it, 15 goals and three assists isn’t an awful campaign, and there’s still the possibility that he ends this season having topped 20 goals for the second straight campaign.

But whether he fits into Solskjaer’s hard-working, high-pressing, quick-breaking style remains to be seen, and Lukaku himself has hinted at an exit, though not necessarily an immediate one. United are also being linked with other strikers.

Likelihood of staying: 6/10

Jesse Lingard

It’s still hard to know what to make of Lingard. At times there are flashes of real quality, with his movement, ability to press, and penchant for a flashy finish. Not to mention his clear love for the club, his local ties, fun personality and status as the club’s ultimate wind-up merchant, all of which make him a fan favourite.

But compared to the best players at his position, Lingard falls short. He doesn’t produce consistently enough and has a tendency to drift in and out of games. He’s 26, which means in theory he’s about to hit his prime – but there is a sense that the current version of Lingard is the best he’ll ever be.

And if he’s already hit his ceiling, then he’s at best a squad player, not someone who should be starting every week for a side chasing major honours. There’s no danger of a summer exit, but United need an upgrade at his position.

Likelihood of staying: 10/10

Juan Mata

That the man who arrived as a club-record signing is likely to leave on a free transfer shows how poorly United have managed their transfers and contracts in the last six seasons.

Never fleet of foot, the diminutive Spaniard has always relied on his sharpness of thought throughout his career. But even the 30-year-old’s brain seems to have slowed this season as games tend to pass him by all too often. It’s a shame because he’s a great role model for United on and off the pitch and has scored more than his fair share of crucial goals – 44 in 216 games for United.

In truth Mata never seemed like a natural fit at the club and though he has done his best to adapt, and endeared himself to the fans, these are set to be his last months at the club until his post-playing career, when United reportedly have him lined up as a club ambassador.

Likelihood of staying: 1/10

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Midfield reinforcements on their way but Manchester United won't let Paul Pogba leave

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Paul Pogba's future is up in the air.

With Manchester United set for a second straight season without silverware, all signs point to a big summer overhaul from newly-installed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Norwegian has spoken of the investment it will take to rebuild the squad so that it bridges the gap to clubs like Barcelona, who dumped United out of the Champions League last week.

While part of the rebuild will involve bringing in new players, Solskjaer and the rest of the club hierarchy will need to make cold, ruthless decisions about the ones already at the club.

Here, we look at how likely the current midfielders at United are to remain at Old Trafford beyond this summer. Check out our analysis of the club’s goalkeepers, defenders, and strikers as well.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba is the player Solskjaer wants to build his team around. For all the talk that the Frenchman is inconsistent, fails to turn up in big games and relies too much on having exactly the right personnel around him in order to be at his best, there’s no doubting the 26-year-old’s talent.

He’s managed 16 goals and 10 assists across all competitions this campaign, the best season of his career to date, and should – under the right conditions – get better.

The complication with Pogba is that he’s flirting with an exit all on his own, with recent comments about linking up with Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid raising eyebrows. As fine a player as he is, his ego and attitude can also be distracting and has the potential to derail the re-build Solskjaer is trying to assemble.

He enters next season with just two years left on his current contract, which means he holds the cards in renewal negotiations, and he could force a move if he wanted to. But selling the World Cup-winner a second time might also be a viable option for the club. He has plenty of suitors and if United were to be offered a sum in the region of £120 million plus, they would have a conundrum to figure out.

But the overriding feeling must still be to keep hold of him for now.  United would prefer to keep him this summer, but will Madrid test their resolve?

Likelihood of staying: 8/10

Fred

It’s never easy for a midfielder to come into the Premier League and instantly settle in, and Fred has no doubt experienced some growing pains during his first season at United. But the £50million man has started to come into his own over the last month, despite his grim showing against Everton, and there is faith at the club that he can find his feet.

United are said to be looking for a new central midfielder in any case, but that’s because they’re thin on proven quality at the position with the likely departure of Ander Herrera and the declining form of Nemanja Matic. Fred will get the chance to kick on in his second season and establish himself as an important member of the squad, regardless of who is brought in.

Likelihood of staying: 10/10

Scott McTominay

Scott McTominay has been one of United’s most impressive players this year, proving Jose Mourinho right after being singled out for praise last season. The young Scot starred against Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona – not many can say that.

There are question marks over just how good McTominay can be, whether he’s a limited player who will make up for that with graft, commitment, and desire, or whether he genuinely has the talent to be come a top-tier player. His athleticism and physique have seen him thrive this year and he has coped ably when tasked with marshalling opponents’ key players and breaking up attacks.

Regardless, at 22 McTominay has a bright future ahead of him, and United will keep him on for a while as they look to discover exactly what sort of player they have on their hands.

Likelihood of staying: 10/10

Ander Herrera

United fans have always been split on Ander Herrera, but even more so since rumours of a deal with PSG emerged. The Spaniard’s passion for the club and committed displays have made him a fan favourite, but with his wage demands reportedly rising to £200,000 per week – which PSG are apparently willing to meet – neither the club nor its fans are sure if the 29-year-old is worth the outlay.

It’s a shame, because despite the idea that he is “leaving for money” Herrera truly loves the club and its fans, and he has been earmarked as a potential captain. United will find better players than him in the market but few have the Roy Keane-esque spirit and bite he brings in midfield, in addition to his good vision and impressive passing range.

As a defensive midfielder with the ability to launch attacks he brings genuine quality that at times get overlooked. But unless there’s a surprising U-turn from either player or club, he’s not going to be a United player much longer.

Likelihood of staying: 3/10

Nemanja Matic

Nemanja Matic’s lack of mobility is becoming increasingly glaring, and though he had a mini-resurgence after Solskjaer’s arrival there is now a clear sense that the Serbian could be in a state of permanent decline.

He still brings title-winning experience to the club and is a player constantly able to be called upon for the big games, but it’s more likely that Matic is reduced to fourth or even fifth-choice midfielder next season, someone trotted out for cup games or when the first-choice players need a rest. The 30-year-old may accept that role, or both club and player could decide it’s time for Matic to move on.

Likelihood of staying: 5/10

Andreas Pereira

Despite showing glimpses of his talent Andreas Pereira has never been able to nail down a spot in his manager’s first-choice XI. Is he more of a defensive midfielder who can keep possession, or a wide, attacking player?

Mourinho was playing him out of position as a holding midfielder, to be fair, but even Solskjaer, who knows the Brazil international from his days as United’s reserve team manager, hasn’t quite been impressed enough to give Pereira a run of games.

The club triggered a one-year extension on Pereira’s contract last month, but that was likely only to ensure the 23-year-old cannot leave on a free this summer rather than a vote of confidence in his abilities. If a suitor comes calling, United will likely let him leave.

Likelihood of staying: 4/10

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