The reason why Manchester United aren’t winning Premier League games under Ralf Rangnick
When Cristiano Ronaldo circled Fraser Forster on Saturday afternoon, the 73,000 inside Old Trafford expected him to score.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s attempt was tame, as he was instead blocked off the line. From the terraces, there was an audible sigh of disappointment. Ronaldo’s career has been built on goals, and yet here he was, wasting the most basic of opportunities. When he received the ball, he seemed destined to score, and that moment typified United’s previous issues.
United have taken the lead against Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Burnley, and Southampton, but have lost all four games. That’s inexcusable. United’s inability to sniff blood and kill off games in crucial times has proven to be their undoing under Ralf Rangnick. Their lack of ruthlessness will almost certainly cost them a place in the Champions League next season.
Ronaldo is the best goalscorer in the history of the game, but he’s now on his longest goal drought in over a decade. Rangnick said ahead of Saturday’s encounter that it’s not just about Ronaldo, and he was correct. The goals aren’t coming in as frequently as they should be all over the field. In front of goal, United is hopelessly wasteful.
Rangnick talked about expected goals (xG) after the points were shared at Old Trafford, and while that may seem minor to some following another dreadful second-half performance, it wasn’t odd to see the German bring it up.
“Southampton had an xG of 2.57 to 0.57 today. It’s not a matter of not creating opportunities; it’s a matter of not being efficient enough “Rangnick said, and it was clear that he was criticizing his players. It’s impossible to disagree with the facts. It has a specific goal.
During his interim tenure, the 63-year-old didn’t get the traditional honeymoon, and his marriage to United already appears to be in trouble. Rangnick has had little joy since his arrival, but United’s predicted goals may provide him with some relief.
The data has brought some relief from the recent criticism because it shows that there has been some progress.
It may be argued that the scoreline is all that matters – which is certainly correct in terms of the standings – but that old school of thought is becoming increasingly foolish. In football, there is now data accessible that can assist us identify patterns, provide a clearer indication of performance levels, and aid in analysis. It should be embraced rather than avoided.
Expected goals (xG) are a useful statistic in football that is here to stay. The measure assesses a goal-scoring opportunity based on a variety of various elements such as shooting location, shot type, and other variables.
In layman’s terms, xG provides a more accurate depiction of performance than scorelines, which can be misleading at times.
United have only scored three goals in their last three games against Middlesbrough, Burnley, and Southampton, despite averaging 8.8 xG per game. That’s a big underperformance, and it exemplifies United’s squandering.
United’s goal-scoring woes are unlikely to continue, and their luck in front of goal should eventually regress to the mean, implying that they’ll start taking their opportunities again shortly. They are providing far too many opportunities for goals to be scored.
‘xG’ isn’t exactly endearing. It seems like something you’d find in a chemistry lab rather than a football field, but its utility can’t be contested, and it’s now demonstrating that United are attacking well, but not taking their chances.
Anyone who watched the Southampton game would have reached the same conclusion, but the data indicates the true scope of the problem.
United’s next two opponents are Brighton and Leeds, and they should have no trouble scoring if they keep up their present form.