Manchester United are currently the third best team in the Premier League, according to statistics site FiveThirtyEight.
The statistics company uses a complex algorithm to produce a figure called an ‘SPI’ – soccer power index – that represents a club’s overall strength.
Each club’s SPI at the start of the season is based on the previous season’s and the club’s financial value as calculated by Transfermarkt. The figure is then recalculated match-by-match according to how well the team performs compared to expected.
Using this system, the Red Devils currently have an SPI of 86.2, which puts them third in the Premier League. Interestingly, Liverpool only lie second on 91.9, with Manchester City topping the table on 94.8.
The SPI at the start of the season showed United coming sixth behind Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs with an SPI of 80.0 and Sheffield United finishing bottom of the Premier League.
The Reds’ score had risen slightly to 81.2 by the end of January when Fernandes was signed. At that stage United were fifth best in the Premier League behind Chelsea and Leicester.
The massive rise to 86.2 in just a few weeks shows the incredible impact that the arrival of Fernandes – and Odion Ighalo – has had on the club’s fortunes.
The rise also puts United eighth in world football overall, ahead of the likes of Juventus, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. City are first, followed by Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG and Red Bull Leipzig. The Red Devils would have been 17th behind the likes of Getafe before Fernandes’ arrival.
In terms of what happens next, Fivethirtyeight uses the SPI in another formula to predict forthcoming matches and accumulate those to give a final prediction of what will happen at the end of the season.
This says the Red Devils have a 75% chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season, slightly less than Chelsea at 79% but significantly more than rivals Wolves (23%), Spurs (11%) and Sheffield United (11%).
The figures are based on City’s UEFA ban being upheld.
United’s SPI of 86.2 also makes them favourite to win the Europa League, with a 45% chance of reaching the final and a 27% chance of winning the competition. Second favourites are Bayer Leverkusen and third, Wolves.
United are through to the FA Cup quarter finals after their win at Derby. But how much do you know about the Red Devils’ history in the FA Cup? Take our quiz below to find out!