Wed. Sep 30th, 2020

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We ‘predicted’ Man United’s Premier League season on Football Manager

4 min read

Manchester United’s 2020/21 Premier League gets underway next Saturday, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side taking on Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.

Ahead of the new campaign, United have strengthened their squad with the signing of midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax, who joined the club for a fee of £34.6m, which could reach up to £39m with add-ons.

The Reds are still hoping to tie up signings before the transfer window closes, with Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho a key target for the club in this window. Progress has recently been made in talks over agents fees and personal terms with Jadon Sancho as the club continue to push for a deal for the England International.

So, where could United finish in the Premier League with their current squad? We used Football Manager 2020 to get a prediction ahead of the new season.

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Manchester United’s 2020/21 Premier League season predicted

To get a prediction for Manchester United’s season, we used Football Manager 2020 to predict the future, simulating the game until May 2021.

We used a third-party database add-on to factor in all real-life promotions, relegations, transfers and manager changes to make the simulation as realistic as possible, including the transfer of Donny van de Beek to United.

The Football Manager database currently contains data on more than 800,000 individuals and 45,000 active clubs, with data sourced from their international on-the-ground scouting network which numbers roughly 1,000 people, among their ranks are some who are involved in football in professional capacities, including scouts and coaches.

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In addition, each annual iteration of Football Manager has built-in algorithms which check for outliers and data discrepancies. Data accuracy is further ensured by input from contributors who are active within the professional game (players, agents etc.) who provide regular feedback.

So, how will Manchester United perform in our simulated 2020/21 campaign? Here’s what happened.

This is how Manchester United’s statistically-best eleven looked at the end of our simulated season, with new signing Van de Beek featuring in midfield alongside Paul Pogba.

United’s best team was: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Van de Beek, Pogba; Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Greenwood; Martial.

Van de Beek had an impressive debut campaign at United, registering the most assists in the Premier League in the 2020/21 season. The Dutch midfielder registered 15 assists, with United teammate Bruno Fernandes second with 14, just ahead of Sadio Mane.

In addition to being a major creative force, Bruno Fernandes had a very impressive season in front of goal, finishing as the club’s top goalscorer in our simulated season, scoring 22 goals in all competitions, more than Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

In fact, United had a really strong campaign in terms of goals scored in the Premier League, with Solskjaer’s side scoring 72 goals in the top-flight, 6 more than they managed in their real-life 2019/20 season.

Only Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea scored more in the league.

United were also better in terms of goals conceded, with the Reds conceding only 31 goals in 38 league games, which is five fewer than their real-life 2019/20 campaign.

Only Liverpool and Man City conceded fewer in our simulated season.

So how did these figures translate into league performance for United? Let’s take a look at how the Premier League table looked at the end of our 2020/21 simulated season.

United significantly improved their points tally, winning 81 points throughout the campaign, some 15 points more than they managed last season. This resulted in a much tighter battle for both the top four and the title.

In the end, United finished fourth in the Premier League, just one point behind Chelsea, with Liverpool winning the league by the smallest of margins.

All of the top four teams were in the title race for the majority of the campaign, with Chelsea and the Reds seeing their title challenges fade somewhat towards the end of the campaign.

If Sancho was included in the United squad during this simulation, it’s likely that United would have finished third, and maybe even challenged for the title.

Football Manager predicts that Manchester United will win more points, score more goals and conceded fewer goals than they did last season. The problem is, FM also predicts that all of the other teams will also improve, resulting in a tight race at the top.

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