Manchester United Revival Post Sir Alex Ferguson Era

A narrow win over Burnley was enough for Manchester United to seal the top spot for the first time after Christmas since 2013 when Sir Alex Ferguson retired from his esteemed position.

The revival of the club as a result of numerous improvements made in the last couple of years. The resurgence of the Red Devils is subtle to describe, but it is possible to get a bird’s eye view with the statistics.

Manchester United Revival in Numbers

A Different Dimension in Attack

The once-formidable champions of England were 22 points behind their arch-rivals, Liverpool, at this stage last season. To get a glimpse of what has changed at the club since last season, here are the numbers:

The first half of the 2019/20 season was a hit and a miss, as Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira struggled for form throughout. The duo managed a meagre 0.9 key passes and 1.5 key passes per ninety, in a combined 2,392 minutes of action. On the contrary, Bruno Fernandes made 2.1 key passes per ninety in 1,223 minutes last season. The arrival of the Portuguese attacking midfielder in the winter of last year has played a role in the club’s revival and has also helped fill the leadership void at Old Trafford. As for the 2020/21 campaign, the former Sporting Lisbon captain has managed a mouth-watering 3.1 key passes per 90 in 1,393 minutes of playtime.

The Influence of Michael Carrick

Midfield duo Fred and Scott McTominay have become key-figures since the start of last season. While the Brazilian and the Scotsman did not offer much while moving forward last season, they have raised their attacking performances since then. With improved distribution and passing accuracy, the midfield duo has turned multi-faceted in their approach. This change is a result of the club legend Michael Carrick’s involvement. Although both midfielders have a long way to go, they have proven to be significant for the club.

The Revival of Paul Pogba

After an injury-ridden campaign, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has awoken the beast inside Paul Pogba as he has recaptured the fantastic form he showed at Juventus.

The Frenchman’s ability makes up for the weaknesses of both Scott Mctominay and Fred is why his return is a huge reason why United are on this current form. Pogba, while occupying a deeper position, has shown creativity and flair. His average passes of 46.9 per ninety eclipses Mctominay’s 33.9 passes per ninety. The 27-year old World Cup winner’s ability to switch play with his 3.6 long balls per ninety is only behind Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes, who both have 4.4 and 3.9 long balls per ninety, respectively. Pogba has also performed an average of 1.4 dribbles per game in the Premier League.

The Manchester United Academy

Manchester United’s academy has produced some incredible footballers; notably, the Class of ’92. The presence of the Class of ’92 helped shape the club into a force once again, but towards the end of the legendary coach Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure, the Old Trafford giants struggled to produce talent. The advent of Solskjaer brought in as a player from that era is about an overhaul to a system that was dysfunctional for years. The overhaul involved signing exuberant and willing young players from around the world. The arrivals of Facundo Pellestri and Amad Traore are synonymous with the new system. There have been other signings made in the last two years. The new policy led to the under-23 team’s promotion back to the Premier League 2 Division 1.

The Unpopular Opinion

Despite a dreadful start to last season, the Manchester club bounced back due to Bruno Fernandes’ move from Sporting Lisbon. The arrival coincided with a miraculous run that ended in third place to win a UEFA Champions League place. In a nutshell, Manchester United have picked up 67 points from 31 league games since the Portuguese’s international arrival. To put this into perspective, no club has managed similar or more points during this time.

Only time will tell if Manchester United‘s revival is a flash in the pan or a sign of big things to come. As for now, Solskjaer‘s men sit on top of the table with the defending champions, Liverpool being their next challenge in the Premier League.

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