10 shocking stats behind Man Utd’s historically bad start to the 2023-24 season
Manchester United suffered yet another setback to crank the pressure on Erik ten Hag after losing 4-3 away to FC Copenhagen.
The result puts their chances of making it through their Champions League group in serious doubt, having lost three of their opening four matches. They’re left needing at least one win from their remaining two matches away to Galatasaray and at home to Bayern Munich, who have wrapped up the top spot with two games to spare.
That’s despite having made an excellent start in the Danish capital, racing to a two-goal advantage via a Rasmus Hojlund brace. But everything changed when Marcus Rashford was sent off after a VAR check showed that his misplanted foot caught the ankle of Copenhagen right-back Elias Jelert.
The hosts responded with a quickfire double in injury-time of the first half and went on to win with two late goals in the second half – roaring back once again after United regained their lead through a Bruno Fernandes penalty.
“We are very disappointed because we played very good,” Ten Hag reacted to the defeat in Copenhagen.
“We started the game so well. Our best minutes of the season. We are winning the game and the red card changes everything.”
The result is just the latest in a long line of disappointments for United in recent weeks. They’re out of the League Cup, having lost 3-0 at home to Newcastle United, a humbling result that came days after a defeat via the same scoreline in the Manchester derby.
“I still don’t think that there’s that much pressure on him. I think he’s had a good year and he’s bought a bit of time in that respect,” United legend Paul Scholes told TNT Sports following the loss.
“He’s had bad injuries but as you say, nine defeats in 17 games is not good enough.
“I know managers have been sacked in that second or third year. I don’t think we can afford to do it anymore, we’ve got to let this fella get on with it.
“I think he’s been good up until this point and I go on to this season, I know it’s not been that great but he’s got a bit unlucky tonight.
“They’re going to have to play better teams than Copenhagen but I thought there was a little bit of fight there tonight, just lacking still that bit of leadership. Maybe if a Casemiro was in there things might be different.”
Here are 10 stats that sum up quite how bad things have been for Manchester United in the 2023-24 campaign so far:
– This was the first time that Manchester United have lost a game in which they had a two-goal lead since the 5-3 Premier League defeat to Leicester City in September 2014. It’s the first time they’ve ever lost a Champions League match after going two goals ahead.
– Manchester United have only conceded four or more goals five times in their entire history in the European Cup and Champions League – from 297 matches in total. Two (40%) of those have occurred during their four outings in the 2023-24 group stage so far.
– It took United 52 matches to suffer their nine defeats last season. This is the fastest they’ve ever reached nine defeats in the Premier League era – doing so in half as many outings (17) as the next-worst (34 matches to reach nine defeats in David Moyes’ memorably disastrous 2013-14 campaign). Stat via The Athletic.
– The last time that United lost nine of their opening 17 matches was the infamous 1973-74 campaign, which ended in relegation.
– Burnley (10 defeats) are the only Premier League club to have suffered more losses than Manchester United this season.
“Not only tonight. We have to deal with many decisions against us in other games”
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) November 8, 2023
– Across 11 Premier League matches and over 1000 minutes of football, United’s forwards have cumulatively registered one goal and one assist between them (both from Marcus Rashford). Antony (470 minutes), Alejandro Garnacho (334 minutes), Facundo Pellistri (111 minutes), Jadon Sancho (77 minutes), Rasmus Hojlund (572 minutes) and Anthony Martial (232 minutes) are yet to notch a direct league goal contribution this season.
– The results may be bad but the underlying numbers behind the performances aren’t any better. United can’t say they’ve been unlucky this season – they rank 12th for expected goals (xG) in the Premier League, 14th for expected goals against (xGA) and 11th for expected points (xPTS) – via Understat. Only Tottenham are overperforming their xG output more, and that’s with United sitting eighth with five defeats from 11 league outings.
– All but one of United’s eight wins this season have been by a narrow one-goal margin – 3-0 against a heavily-rotated Crystal Palace in the League Cup.
– This has been the club’s worst start to a season in 60 years – the 1962-63 season.
– All of this is despite boasting the most expensively-assembled squad in world football and the biggest wage bill in the Premier League.