Manchester United have started the Premier League season brightly after an excellent transfer window, and the stats appear to show some of the key changes in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s approach
The Red Devils have got off to a flying start to the season, winning three of their four Premier League games so far, leaving them top of the table going into this weekend’s round of fixtures.
United made a number of quality signings during the summer transfer window, bringing in Raphael Varane to sure up the defence, as well as Sancho and the marquee return of Ronaldo from Juventus.
The have made an immediate impact too; Ronaldo scoring three times in his opening two matches, while Varane’s composure at the back has kept the conceded tally in the league to just three.
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The statistics behind their fine early form suggests that it may stem from a positive change in style from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
According to numbers from Sky Sports, the start distance of where United begin their passing sequences in open play is higher than any other team in the Premier League at 45.4m.
That is a huge improvement on the 40.6m during the 2018/19 season, only the 13th highest, while last season they were 7th in the ranks at 42.3m.
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Of course, there have only been four games in the Premier League so far and thus the sample size is much smaller than those of a whole season.
But the early signs certainly suggest that the defensive line has been pushed higher in order to look to control games and begin plays as high up the pitch as possible.
Solskjaer played down any talk of an ‘overarching philosophy’ to the club’s system ahead of their clash with West Ham on Sunday.
The Norwegian insists that his side’s recent success comes down purely to a desire to get on the ball and win the game.
Solskjaer replied when asked about players doing several roles: “Overarching philosophy? I don’t sit here and claim [that]. Football is a simple game, it’s about making good decisions, it’s about your qualities, it’s about being in a team and sometimes we look too much into the little intricacies.
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“It’s passion, it’s desire, it’s who wants to win that tackle, who wants to win that ball, which one of the strikers has got the desire to get on the end of crosses.
“You can talk about all sorts, it looks nice on paper, but when you get out on that pitch, [it’s about] who wants to win, that’s one of the big things.
“You want winners and I think I’m getting there with my team. [They are] team players.”