Ten Games In – Ferguson v Moyes v Van GaalStats
Man Utd v Crystal Palace
After Manchester United’s derby loss yesterday, it’s now officially their worst start to a league season since 1986/87.
Then, under Ron Atkinson, they accumulated just nine points in their first ten games. This was in stark contrast to the previous season, where Big Ron’s side won their opening ten matches before fading away and finishing fourth.
Atkinson got three more league games to save his job, but a dismal League Cup defeat to Southampton was the final straw.
Sir Alex Ferguson
He was replaced by Aberdeen boss Alex Ferguson, whose first ten games in charge didn’t exactly set the world alight.
He took over an average squad with a reputation for hard drinking and indiscipline, and an initial defeat to Oxford United left the Red Devils in 20th place in the table. Further defeats to Wimbledon and Norwich City were balanced with crucial wins over Liverpool and Newcastle United.
Ferguson accumulated 15 points in his first ten matches, lifting United to 14th, before eventually finishing 11th.
It would take him six seasons to claim his first league title, a timeframe his successor could only dream of.
Ten Games In – 15 points
Having won the title in Ferguson’s last season, it looked business as usual when United hammered Swansea City away in Moyes’ first league game in charge. This was followed by a creditable scoreless draw with Chelsea, where bus-parking was the order of the day.
However, defeats to Liverpool, Manchester City and West Brom hinted at things to come. Victories over Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Stoke City and Fulham left United 8th after ten league games.
The fixture list wasn’t kind to Moyes, as he highlighted before the season started, but a haul of 17 points in the opening ten matches was a poor return for defending champions.
There seemed to be no discernible style or plan to Moyes’ regime and there was a general feeling that things could only get worse as United lay in eighth after ten games.
Ten Games In – 17 points
Louis Van Gaal
Van Gaal famously gave a self-imposed timeframe of three months to get things right at Old Trafford. We’re now almost three months into the league season and, statistically, United are even worse than last season.
The Dutchman has mustered just 13 points in his opening ten games, enjoying a more favourable fixture list than his predecessor faced.
His side has conceded one more than this time last season, a damning indictment of his failure to address obvious deficiencies in defence.
Moyes did have the experience and fading talents of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra to marshall his defence, which makes Van Gaal’s reticence to invest in experienced defensive replacements even more inexplicable.
Despite spending over £150 million on mainly attacking talent, United have also scored one less goal than during Moyes’ first ten games. However, their total passes and passing accuracy has improved on last season and there is a general consensus that things can only get better.
Van Gaal has been reluctant to blame injuries on United’s current malaise but there’s no doubt that they’ve taken their toll on their start to the season – particularly in defence.
He is enjoying a much longer honeymoon period than Moyes was granted but his charisma and confidence have injected some hope – in stark contrast to his predecessor’s often dejected, morose demeanour.
Ten Games In – 13 points