The data behind Manchester United’s Brentford drubbing

Manchester United’s dismal start to the season under new manager Erik ten Hag escalated with a 4-0 hammer from Brentford on Saturday.

Here we assess the stats behind their recent loss.


Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo (left) and Manchester United’s Luke Shaw battle for the ball

(PA wire)

For the second week in a row, United dominated possession but failed to make it count. According to official Premier League statistics, Ten Hag’s side had exactly two-thirds of possession, an improvement on their 63 per cent loss to Brighton the previous week.

They had 699 touches, including 525 passes, compared to 421 and 255 for Brentford, but failed to create any clear chances. In contrast, the Bees’ clinical superiority was shown by the lightning-fast two-pass counterattack that saw Bryan Mbeumo score the fourth goal and Mathias Jensen, who edged out Christian Eriksen to score the second immediately.

Bridging the distance

A figure that sparked much debate after the game was the distance covered by each side, 95.6km for United compared to Brentford’s 109.4km.

While distance information is of limited use in isolation and can be explained to a large extent by variation in ball possession, it has been interpreted by some as a sign of a lack of engagement. Ten Hag canceled United’s planned day off on Sunday and there were reports he wanted to get his players to run the extra 13.8km during the extra training session.

attack threat

Cristiano Ronaldo was frustrated in front of goal (John Walton/PA)

(PA wire)

United had 15 shots to Brentford’s 13 over the 90 minutes but just four on target compared to seven for the hosts and two corners to eight.

Eriksen was labeled a ‘great opportunity’ in La Liga statistics and came the closest to a consolation goal against his former club, while Cristiano Ronaldo, who was recalled to the starting XI, took the lead with six shots, two on target.

Employed in defense

Harry Maguire, right, fouls Brentford’s Ivan Toney (John Walton/PA)

(PA wire)

United had to make twice as many tackles as Brentford, 12 to six and 22 clearances to 13.

They committed 15 fouls and collected four cautions, frustrated late challenges from Scott McTominay, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes contributing to Harry Maguire’s first-half foul on Ivan Toney with the free-kick count ending 17-7 in Brentford’s favour, including offside.

Martinez avoiding tackles?

Lisandro Martinez’s lack of height in central defense has already been questioned, particularly after Ben Mee’s goal when the Brentford defender headed home despite falling backwards under pressure from the Argentine.

The 5ft 9in Martinez has made three header clearances this season, but the league website says he hasn’t contested a dogfight. Old United boy Gary Neville, himself a minor centre-back for part of his early career before making the permanent move to right-back, drew attention to Maguire moving to cover Martinez in the air in his post-match analysis for Sky Sports , and likened it to his old teammate Gary Pallister, who does the same for him. The data behind Manchester United’s Brentford drubbing

Fry Electronics Team

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