On the back of Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with West Ham United, whoscored.com tdid an in-depth look at the performance of tUnited’s current attacking stars from the last 6 seasons in Europe’s top 5 leagues. It does not make for pretty reading.
In terms of minutes between goals and assists, all of their United’s stars, Rooney, Van Persie and Mata are having their worst season in in five years.
It is not just about the basic end product, but also the progress in general play. With every one of these players, there is a worrying decline in some key aspect of their game, confirming what we see: United’s attackers not getting into positions to do much damage. You cannot score if you don’t score and Rooney (2.2), Van Persie (2.6) and Falcao (2) all have their fewest shots per game at any point in the last six years.
But to get shots, you need someone opening up the defence with a great pass and that is not happening. Moving Rooney back into midfield experiment has not worked. With only 1.5 key passes per game, that is the lowest number Rooney has had in the last six years.
But it is not all Rooney’s fault. Juan Mata’s form has fallen off a cliff. His average key passes per game between 2009 and 2014 was 2.5, with a high of 3 in 2011/12 and a low of 2.2 in his breakthrough seasons at Valencia. Now, it is 1.4, and it is not like Mata has replaced them with more dribbling, as an average of 0.5 runs per game is his lowest for six years in that stat too.
Tbe stats back up what we have been seeing. United are missing someone creative in midfield to create chances for the strikers. Without that, all we are left with is a lot of side to side possession that goes nowhere.
For United to finish in the top four, van Gaal needs to get his stars playing better and find someone (Herrera?) to start to take some chances and create opportunities for the strikers.