Manchester United concluded the 2018/19 season with a 2-0 home defeat against relegated Cardiff on the final day of the campaign, arguably a perfect summary of the previous 10 months.
In what might sum up the last five years at Manchester United, this season saw a blend of utter chaos, false dawns, and a real sense that no one is quite sure how to get this football club going again.
Looking at the trendlines, it’s pretty easy to spot what the major narratives were at Old Trafford.
Another Jose Mourinho meltdown for the first half of the season led to poor numbers, while David De Gea’s heroics in 2017/18 were unable to continue and all the problems in this side came home to roost.
Subsequently, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came in and saw a genuine improvement in the side’s performances boosted by a huge positive finishing skew, convincing the board that the Norwegian was the man for the long haul.
Then, as the fixture list toughened up, the team inevitably had a dip in performance, but this had the bad fortune of being met by a return to league average finishing at both ends, amplifying a view that everything had once again gone wrong at Old Trafford.
United finished outside the Premier League top four for the fourth time in six seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, and experienced a big fall from last year’s second place.
Ending 2018/19 as many as 32 points behind champions Manchester City shows just how much United have failed to improve in the last six years. It is the biggest gap between United and the top of the league table since ‘three points for a win’ was introduced into English football in 1981.
This was also the club’s leakiest season since 1978/79 after conceding 54 goals.
Not only did United finish bottom of the ‘big six mini league’ after only one win against their direct rivals, they also lost to Cardiff, Everton, Wolves, West Ham and Brighton, and failed to beat Huddersfield, Burnley, Southampton and Crystal Palace. The season also finished with five successive games without a win, perhaps a perfect indicator of the need for major changes.
That being said, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Between Jose Mourinho’s sacking in December and the wheels coming off in mid-March, United managed to go 12 Premier League games unbeaten, winning 10 of them and actually playing like something resembling a good team.