Manchester United’s defensive deterioration under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been laid bare in a shocking new stat.
Despite heavy investment in defence, including the acquisition of the world’s most expensive centre back in Harry Maguire and one of the world’s most renowned defenders in Raphael Varane, United’s defence is now conceding more big chances than it has at any other stage in the last ten years.
@UtdArena has calculated the statistic since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson and the results are concerning.
Under Sir Alex, United conceded just 39 big chances – 1.03 per game in 2011/12 and 40 (1.05 per game) in 2012/13.
The David Moyes era saw a decline, to 48 (1.26 per game) in 2013/14, but Louis van Gaal fared even worse, with 52 (1.37 per game) in 2014/15 and 51 (1.34 per game) in 2015/16.
José Mourinho’s first season in charge saw the best defensive record, conceding just 32 big chances (0.84 per game) in 2016/17, but this deteriorated rapidly in his second and third seasons, with 57 (1.50) in 17/18 and 29 (1.71) in his half-season of 2018/19.
Solskjaer steadied the ship a little in the changeover season and achieved roughly the same as Moyes and Van Gaal in those first six months and in the following season (2018/19: 28 (1.33) and 2019/20: 50 (1.32)).
But the big decline came about last season and has continued in this one. United conceded a whopping 61 big chances last season, for an average of 1.61 times per game. This season, things have gone from bad to worse, with 13 already conceded for an average of 1.86 per game.
This tells us that had it not been for the excellent early season form of David de Gea and some wasteful finishing by opposition strikers, Solskjaer’s men could have been in even worse trouble. They have in fact conceded “only” 10 goals.
There were plenty of excuses for Solskjaer and his coaches last season for not bringing home a trophy. The recruitment team’s failure to sign a right winger, the effects of Covid-19 and major injuries to stars such as Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford were all mitigating factors.
But Varane’s arrival along with that of Sancho and the world’s greatest player in Ronaldo, the return of the Old Trafford faithful, the addition of set-piece coach Eric Ramsey and the excellent form of most of the team leaves the Norwegian with few places to hide when it comes to explaining horrific statistics such as these.
It simply is not good enough.
“Big Chances” Conceded in the League:
11-12: 39 (1.03 per game)
12-13: 40 (1.05)
13-14: 48 (1.26)
14/15: 52 (1.37)
15/16: 51 (1.34)
16/17: 32 (0.84)
17/18: 57 (1.50)
18/19: 29 (1.71)
18/19: 28 (1.33)
19/20: 50 (1.32)
20/21: 61 (1.61)
21/22: 13 (1.86)
— UtdArena (@utdarena) October 2, 2021