With every single game that passes for Man United three things become clear to me:
- Ferguson was some crazy genius who, with a dollop of voodoo magic, was able to outscore the opposition on a consistent basis with an aging squad short of quality.
- He left this Man United squad in a hell of a mess.
- David Moyes, with or without the personnel, probably doesn’t have the skill to coach/teach a group of players how to play a high powered, flexible attacking system.
That’s just my opinon of course, but yeah this is how I feel about Man United right now.
In the graph below we have the last 3 seasons of Man United performance in terms of share of the shots (TSR), share of the shots on target (SoTR), share of the goals scored (Goal%) and PDO (save% + scoring). All this information is shown on a rolling basis.
2011 to 2014
Gradual decline in Goal% as we move from left to right. The share of the shots has stayed pretty stable although there are some score effects issues toward the final 25 game or so.
What we really need to do is break out Ferguson’s performance from Moyes’ performance to check just how different performance was under each manager.
Amamzingly consistent shots numbers after a slow start. Ferguson in his final two seasons posted a TSR of 54.4% and a SoTR of 60.02%. So, straight away we see that Ferguson was able to get his United team to be efficient in terms of getting shots on net and preventing the opposition from doing likewise. Probably some tactics in that, but also a lot of tactics caused by score effects and a ton of time spent at +1 (teams shell, especially on the road and especially as time decays, which creates better counter attacking chances and causes the opposition to shoot from shitty angles and distances.)
Ferguson’s teams posted slightly above average TSR%’s and pretty good SoTR%’s but his teams were far outperforming even those numbers in terms of Goal%. Ferguson’s teams potted 71.57% of the goals scored in Man United games. This is an insane number for an aging team, with holes at certain positions, who posted just a 54% of the shots and 60% of the shots on target. How and why did Ferguson manage this?
Scoring% & Save%
Save% was above the league average of ~70% for the entirity of the final two season, but it was regressing slightly (finished at 77%). Scoring%, on the other hand, was incredibly consistent at around 39%. Add these two numbers up and we can see that Ferguson finished with a PDO of 116.7. Which is Insane!!
I often refer to PDO as being ‘luck’ based and a stat that regresses heavily. But in Ferguson’s case (voodoo) United’s PDO didn’t regress all that much over the last two years. Talent (fading) disparity, genius tactics and a dollop of score effects likely kept United’s PDO high. There is skill in PDO and certain teams will be able to maintain high PDO’s but those teams are likely rare and likely to have significant advantages in talent or coaching. United, from 2011 to 2013, likely had both.
But Ferguson has gone now and that brings us to Moyes.
Moyes has Man United posting 54% of the shots (same as ferguson) and 55% of the shots on target (down from Ferguson) and these numbers are likely boosted by the amount of time spent trailing by a single goal (teams trailing by a single goal get around a 3% boost). The shots on target share is particularly disappointing, but again score effects may have influenced the lack of efficiency in getting shots on target.
The real issue for Moyes is that the PDO magic of Ferguson’s era has all but disappeared, with United posting a PDO of 103.8. The best way to think of PDO is that it is a measure of how far a team is over or under performing its shots numbers. United’s PDO this year is in and around the mean of 1000 and thus Man United haven’t over or underperformed its shots numbers.
Take that ~average PDO and place it alongside that teams shots numbers and you get a Goal% that you likely deserve. Man United have scored 58.1% of the goals this season which is way down from Ferguson’s 71%. Moyes has seen Man United’s control of the shots count slip, control of the shots on target count slip a good bit, and Moyes has also presided over a collapse in PDO which has really hurt United.
Once again, PDO tends to regress to the mean, but there are some skill elements to this stat. Ferguson seemed to have the skill to produce high save and scoring%’s, where as Moyes simply does not. Or, maybe what we are seeing in Man United’s PDO collapse is the sharp decline of talent (especially in defense and midfield), a big change in score effects and some particlarly staid attacking systems. Or some bang average ‘luck’.
Rolling 10-Game Numbers
Ferguson posted just 6 buckets of below average PDO in his final two seasons.