Comparing Solskjaer’s first 28 PL games in charge of Man Utd to Jose’s last 28

Quick Reads

Manchester United‘s draw with Arsenal wasn’t the most notable game in many ways, but it did bring the Red Devils to a significant point in the post-Jose Mourinho era.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has now picked up 49 points from his 28 Premier League games in charge, two fewer than Mourinho managed in his last 28 before being dismissed in December 2018.

Considering the Norwegian’s blistering start, it’s certainly notable that he has fallen behind his predecessor, and we’ve looked at the breakdown in results across United’s last two managers.

Start v finish

Solskjaer’s first 14 games were far more productive than his last 14, with 35 points picked up from the first half of his tenure – helping earn him the job on a permanent basis – and an average of just one point per game since.

Mourinho’s record was a little more balanced, however: he earned 23 points from his last 14 games, and 28 from the 14 before that.

Of the three games won by Solskjaer in that run of 14 points from 14 games, two came courtesy of winners from the penalty spot – at home to West Ham United last season and against Leicester City in September.

Goals scored

Mourinho was not known for free-flowing attacking football towards the end of his United reign, or indeed at many points in his Old Trafford spell. With that in mind, Solskjaer’s United probably scored a lot more, right?

Well, United have scored 45 goals in their 28 Premier League outings under the current boss, though only 11 times in their last 11 games in the league.

Under Mourinho, the tally is – wait for it – 46. And they scored fewer penalties, too. No wonder so many of us lose money when we bet on sports – the reality is often so different to what we assume.

Throughout Mourinho’s reign, going back to his first season in 2016-17, United averaged 1.62 goals per game, compared to 1.55 under Solskjaer.

Goals conceded

It gets slightly better in terms of the defence, with Solskjaer’s Red Devils conceding 32 in 28 games and keeping seven clean sheets in the process.

This is at least better than the end of Mourinho’s tenure, which brought one fewer clean sheet and six extra goals conceded.

Bizarrely, the 29 goals conceded in Mourinho’s 17 games in the 2018-19 season are more than his team let in throughout the entire 2017-18 campaign: throughout his tenure, United conceded 0.92 goals per game compared to 1.14 under Solskjaer, but the Norwegian has the upper hand when compared with Mourinho’s last 28 games.

Home and away

Quirks of the fixture computer have meant Solskjaer has taken charge of 15 home games and just 13 on the road. This is just as well, considering he has averaged 1.87 points per game at Old Trafford and 1.62 on the road.

In Mourinho’s last 28 games, the Portuguese averaged 2.14 points per game in his 14 home games and 1.5 away from Old Trafford – even more of a top-heavy record.

More worryingly, though, Solskjaer’s six away wins came in his first six away games. In the seven trips since beating Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in February, United have earned just three draws and four defeats.

Big six record

Mourinho’s last 28 games included nine meetings with other ‘big six’ clubs. While the last of those was the defeat at Liverpool which brought the manager’s time at Old Trafford to an end, his record wasn’t the worst.

Those nine games brought 14 points, at an average of 1.56 per game, with the 3-2 win at Manchester City in 2018 an undoubted highlight.

Solskjaer, in contrast, has only had to face big six rivals in a quarter of his 28 league games. Those meetings have brought nine points, at an average of 1.29 per game.

The opening day victory over Chelsea was just one of two victories in these games, with the other one coming away to Tottenham back in January.


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