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23 Feb, 21 tweets, 7 min read
Looking at how to improve Manchester United's attack. A thread⬇️
To be honest, United's attack isn't bad, it's actually pretty decent. They rank 5th for non-pen expected goals in the league this season with 1.40. This would put them 5th, joint 5th and 7th over the last 3 full PL seasons respectively.
Their main issues probably lie in defence (9th least npxg allowed), and they have a few issues in their structure that mean they're not great at the back, along with some defensive individuals who lack ability.

But we aren't talking about that for now.

United don't have huge issues progressing the ball in most cases. Especially in open games where transition opportunities occur often. They have a number of good ball carriers/passers who can make differences
This is a chart showing United's players performance (in percentile of europe) for progressive carries per game (left ) and progressive passes per game (right). There a few thing you can spot.
1. Greenwood looks out of place on the right

He isn't contributing enough in progressing the ball, this wouldn't be as much of a problem if he had a right-back that was carrying the build-up, but AWB isn't really doing this either, meaning a predictable, left-based attack.
2. AWB isn't progressing the ball too well

He's the weakest at this of the established starters. This may be a technical issue and could probably be hidden, and he adds value with other aspects of his game, so I would be in a rush to replace him.
3. MF depth poor compared to Pogba

Pogba is the only starting deep midfielder who can consistently progress the ball with both his carrying and passing. McTominay, and less so Fred, don't do so that often.

Matic is good here but playing him comes with other issues, defensively.

United can find it hard to get the ball up the pitch when the opposition press them, especially when playing a McFred pivot. although some of the blame can be placed of the mangers tactics for this, there are some personnel issues
This chart shows the build-up players' performance (in percentile) for total OP passes (left) and passes under pressure (right). To highlight those in the team that are involved in build-up, and those that are shying away from pressure instead of showing for the ball. we can see:
1. Wan Bissaka isn't getting the ball under pressure

This could show either be a tactical move from Ole to minimize the time AWB spends under pressure or, AWB simply not showing for the ball as an option when ball handlers are being pressed, but it stands out compared to others.
2. Mctominay is hiding

He's in the bottom 15% for passes played under pressure per game. If you can't rely on your pivot midfielders to recieve under pressure and split lines, you get matches where you're stuck in your own half all game...

Once you've evaded the press and progressed the ball. you need output from your forwards in the final third.

This chart shows the percentile of players performance in non-pen xG (left) and xA (right), relative to their positions. we can see:
1. Bruno has too much of the creative load

It's a bit hard to see with percentiles (relative to positions) but Bruno is the only starter with any consistency in his final pass this season. When he has off games, the team will suffer.
2. The right side has no creativity

They can score goals well enough, but any form of creativity really only ever comes on the left from Bruno/Rashford/Shaw linking up, It isn't ideal.
3. Martial isn't getting enough chances

He simply isn't getting on the end of enough chances, and his team is suffering because of it.
Below are a number of short/long term solutions to what I feel are problems listed above.
Signing a ST:

Short term, simply starting Cavani over Martial will do, but Cavani's heading towards the twilight of his career and will soon need replacing. Isak or DCL (21/23) should be considered in 1/2 seasons if they continue their development. I assume Haaland is the dream
Signing a RW:

Greenwood/James rotating at RW cannot happen next season. Assuming Sancho's too pricey, an injection of quality through someone like Buendia/Raphinha would really change the team's dynamic. Playing Rashford there whilst waiting for Amad's growth is also an option
Signing a DM:

A new partner for Pogba should be considered. Fred isn't bad, just erratic on and off the ball. A Matic-type would be ideal here, but at 33 his legs are gone and McTominay doesn't consistently do enough "midfield stuff" in midfield.

Thanks for reading, this wasn't really a data-filled piece but hope it highlighted some issues.👍

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