How Man Utd’s record at Xmas 2021 compares to every season post SAF

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Cristiano Ronaldo during Manchester United's win over Arsenal, Old Trafford, December 2021.

Manchester United fans will want to forget about their stuttering start to the 2021-22 season now Ralf Rangnick is in (interim) charge – but how does United’s pre-Christmas form compare to their previous efforts since Sir Alex Ferguson retired?

United haven’t won the league since Ferguson stood down in 2013, with David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all failing to live up to expectations.

We’ve compared their start to the 2021-22 Premier League season to their previous eight seasons to see how they compare.

2021-22

Games: 16
Won: 8
Drawn: 3
Lost: 5

Position: 6th
Points: 27

Goals for: 26
Goals against: 24
Clean sheets: 4

Considering some of the generational thrashings United have suffered this season, they’re surprisingly close to the Champions League places.

United will spend this Christmas in sixth place, five points behind Arsenal in fourth but with two games in hand. And with Rangnick at the wheel, the Old Trafford faithful will be confident of an improved second half of the campaign.

2020-21

Games: 14
Won: 9
Drawn: 2
Lost: 3

Position: 2nd
Points: 29

Goals for: 29
Goals against: 21
Clean sheets: 3

Despite suffering a 6-1 defeat against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham at the start of the season, United were able to turn things around before Christmas 2020.

Their away record was the best in the league and they sat only two points behind Liverpool on Christmas Day. United briefly topped the table in the New Year but eventually finished second behind Manchester City.

2019-20

Games: 18
Won: 6
Drawn: 7
Lost: 5

Position: 8th
Points: 25

Goals for: 26
Goals against: 22
Clean sheets: 2

United hammered Chelsea on the opening weekend of 2019-20, but Solskjaer came under increasing pressure following insipid defeats to Crystal Palace, West Ham, Newcastle and Bournemouth.

But the arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January helped transform their fortunes and United finished the season in third – playing some of their best football of the post-Fergie era in the process.

2018-19

Games: 18
Won: 8
Drawn: 5
Lost: 5

Position: 6th
Points: 29

Goals for: 34
Goals against: 30
Clean sheets: 2

United were victims of the latest Jose Mourinho meltdown and the antagonistic manager was sacked following a defeat to Liverpool in December 2018.

Solskjaer was appointed as interim manager and a 5-1 win at Cardiff was enough to keep United 6th at Christmas. But the United board surely wouldn’t be seduced by a string of victories over the following months…

Oh.

2017-18

Games: 19
Won: 13
Drawn: 3
Lost: 3

Position: 2nd
Points: 42

Goals for: 41
Goals against: 14
Clean sheets: 10

United were among the favourites to win the Premier League title in 2017-18 after winning six of their opening seven games.

However, defeats to Huddersfield Town and Chelsea allowed Manchester City to open up a lead at the top and United were never able to catch up – and not just because City were excellent.

On the other hand, United would kill for a similar record these days.

2016-17

Games: 17
Won: 8
Drawn: 6
Lost: 3

Position: 6th
Points: 30

Goals for: 24
Goals against: 17
Clean sheets: 6

United notched up too many draws in Mourinho’s first season to be considered serious contenders for the title.

Despite the arrival of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the side suffered a heavy defeat at Chelsea in the middle of that run of draws and would end the season in the same position.

But Mourinho did win both the League Cup and Europa League trophies, which represent the last silverware United won.

2015-16

Games: 17
Won: 8
Drawn: 5
Lost: 4

Position: 5th
Points: 29

Goals for: 22
Goals against: 14
Clean sheets: 9

While Louis van Gaal’s football may have been as enjoyable as an episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys, United actually had an impressive start to 2015-16.

The Red Devils beat Tottenham and Liverpool at Old Trafford before a thrashing at Arsenal set the tone for the remainder of the season.

By the time Christmas 2015 came around, the Stretford End regulars were getting restless and their Boxing Day defeat at Stoke was an abdication of responsibility.

United eventually finished 5th, missing out on Champions League football on goal difference, and won the FA Cup. It wasn’t enough to keep Van Gaal in his job.

2014-15

Games: 17
Won: 9
Drawn: 5
Lost: 3

Position: 3rd
Points: 32

Goals for: 30
Goals against: 18
Clean sheets: 5

Despite spending over £100million on new signings, including Angel Di Maria, United picked up just two points from their opening three Premier League games under Van Gaal in 2014-15.

Their form picked up sufficiently for United to rise to 3rd by Christmas, but their season was pretty forgettable. Wins over Liverpool and Manchester City enlivened the spring but it didn’t compensate for their various limitations.

2013-14

Games: 17
Won: 8
Drawn: 4
Lost: 5

Position: 8th
Points: 28

Goals for: 28
Goals against: 20
Clean sheets: 4

After years of success and silverware, United found themselves in an unfamiliar 8th at Christmas 2013.

Defeats against Liverpool and Manchester City weren’t a surprise, but defeats at home to Everton, West Brom and Newcastle for the first time in a generation were signs that all was not well at Old Trafford.

David Moyes limped on until April and was sacked after United couldn’t mathematically qualify for the Champions League. They entered the season as defending champions but have yet to mount a title challenge since.


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