You can use statistics to prove anything you want, as long as you use the right numbers. Finding reasons for Manchester United to finish this season empty handed seems like a very easy task these days, as defending their Premier League title seems like an almost impossible mission at this point.
The amount of points Manchester United have after six league matches this season, winning twice, drawing once and losing three times. They’ve already dropped five points at home – drawing 0-0 with Chelsea and losing to West Brom.
Over the last five seasons, that’s been the average amount of points achieved by the champions of the Premier League, and it even goes higher if we track back longer to 2004, which includes Chelsea’s dominant seasons under Mourinho or Arsenal’s undefeated season.
If Manchester United are to get to the 86.8 mark (although 80 points were enough in the 2010-2011 season), they’d have to average 2.49 points per match, or get 79 points from the remaining 32 matches. That’s winning 26 times and drawing once more. The last time a team achieved points at that rate was Chelsea in the 2004-2005 season, finishing with 95 points to win the title. They lost only once in that season.
Numbers don’t seal the fates of championships. The achievements of the past in different situations don’t indicate what’s going to happen this time. However, it does help see in how much of a mess Manchester United are, as they’ve fallen 8 points behind Arsenal at the top of the table too soon. They’ve had slow starts before, but this one does feel like it’s different. Because of Sir Alex Ferguson not being on the sidelines, and because everything David Moyes can’t do to replicate his predecessor’s influence and success.
Not everything is about winning championships. Alex Ferguson didn’t win it every season. But Manchester United have always been involved in the race, at least for the last 7 seasons, in which they’ve won five titles and finished second by a point or goal difference. To fall from that to the situation they’re in now, with things looking quite bleak considering the manager running the show isn’t projecting too much confidence, can be soon labeled as a crisis, or even a disaster.