There have been many articles showing how much Man Utd has progressed under Jose Mourinho since the dark days of Moyes and LvG. However, just how much have Man Utd progressed and where has the progression been made? Is the improvement mainly in attack, or is it the defence?The answer may shock a few people.
Man Utd have scored a significant amount of goals so far this season, and kept the most clean sheets in the league. Does that mean we’re more clinical in front of goal compared to previous seasons? Are the strikers more accurate? How about the defence; are the defenders pulling their weight or are we relying too much on the best goalkeeper in the world?
Let’s start with the overall performance: Focusing on win percentage, chances per game and goals per game compared to the previous five seasons.
Starting with the win percentage, Man Utd have been on a steady decline since LvG’s first season up to and including Mourinho’s first season. This season has seen the win percentage rocket from 47% last season (lowest ever) to 72% which is the best since Ferguson was in charge.
Chances and goals per game have both also shot up to the highest numbers we’ve seen since we last won the league. In most other season’s, Man Utd would be top of the league with the points we have, goals we’ve scored and win rate. It’s just unfortunate that our arch rivals are having a freakish season, but fans need to look past it and trust that we’re on the right path.
Next are stats specifically on the strikers: Comparing how many shots per game they’re getting off, how accurate they are with those shots and what percentage they’re converting to goals.
To save any confusion, the axis on the left hand side of the graph is purely for the shot accuracy (the red line). The shots per game and shot conversion % are both using the right hand axis for the numbers.
Man Utd had a hat full of shots last season, but they also had the worst shot conversion rate (9.1%) of any Premier League season. Fortunately this season it has shot up to one of the best conversion rate of 16.5% of all shots at goal finding the back of the net. Shot accuracy (% shots on target) has steadily improved over Jose Mourinho’s watch. Our attackers have really improved under this management.
Onto the defenders: Mourinho is renowned for his defensive discipline and improving defenders to provide a solid base to play from. Knowing that if you score a goal the chances of you winning dramatically improve knowing the opposition will unlikely score. So how have they progressed?
Let’s start with the goals conceded per game. This figure has steadily come down over the last six years and continues to do so this season. The defence isn’t leaking many goals at all, and with the strikers performing better this can only be a good thing.
However, let’s look at how clinical our defenders have been under Jose. The percentage of successful tackles has taken a drastic nose-dive. We’ve gone from averaging 75% successful tackles under Moyes and LvG to 67% over the last two seasons under Jose.
The result of poor tackling is more players getting through to shooting opportunities against our goal. So for our defence to continue to concede so few goals it’ll mean that David De Gea is being worked harder and saving more shots per game. Which is accurately reflected in the stats; he’s gone from saving 2.24 shots per game last season (a career low) to saving 3.83 shots per game this season (a career high).
The questions are: why is that? What’s happened to our defence this season to be so unsuccessful in tackling? It’s a problem that needs sorting out soon. Fans are calling for Man Utd to spend all the January budget on offensively minded players, which I agree we do need a better number 10: But perhaps we shouldn’t overlook the fact that the defenders are struggling this season and we may need an increase in defensive quality during the January market.
Progress is massive under Mourinho in such a short space of time. More wins, more goals, more chances, fewer goals conceded. Just need to improve tackling to save De Gea needing to make too many last ditch saves and risk conceding a greater number of goals in the future.
If this rate of progression continues, success is sure to follow!