Is Manchester United's discipline a cause for concern?

Michael Carrick 2012

Manchester United currently have the worst disciplinary record in the Premier League and sit ninth in the Premier League after seven games played.

New boss David Moyes has had quite enough cause for concern already this season after a number of disappointments both on and off the pitch, in the transfer market this summer and results in the league.

However, the Red Devils’ 2-1 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday will hopefully be enough to draw a line under a difficult start to the season for the champions but should the boss be mindful of his team’s disciplinary record?

As a team, United have been cautioned by referees more than any other side – 17 yellow cards have been shown to Red Devils’ players, averaging 2.4 yellow cards a game which, on paper doesn’t sound too disturbing, as an average.

United have yet to see any member of their team dismissed via a red card yet which is also a noteworthy point but United have so far conceded 79 fouls, averaging 11.29 fouls per game.

Persistent fouling on its own is not necessarily a cause for concern, especially in the case of professional fouls of a cynical nature but, crucially, United are giving away more free-kicks than any other team in the league and, with those free-kicks, they are giving away more possession than any other team in the league via fouls.

Manchester United currently have an average possession percentage of 57 per cent per game, only slightly less than leaders in that respect Manchester City with 58.8 per cent possession on average over the seven games played.

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United, incidentally, also concede more shots on goal than City per game. The champions concede an average of 10.9 shots on David De Gea’s goal per game so far to City’s 8.7 per game.

Manchester United scored more goals from set-pieces than any other team last season – 22 goals set-piece goals, four penalties, and six own goals with 52 goals coming from open play and two goals from counter-attacks.

This season, so far, Manchester United have been carded twice as many times as any other team for diving (2 times), 12 times for fouls on opposition players, and 3 times for ‘other’ infringements.

In the fouls given against column Cardiff, Tottenham, Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Everton, Swansea, and Manchester City (in that order) have fouled the least and, incidentally, four out of seven of those have been opponents of Manchester United so far.

In the games United have lost so far, against West Brom, Manchester City and Liverpool, they have been carded twice as many times as the opposition.

Michael Carrick has the worst disciplinary record, picking up three yellow cards, whilst Tom Cleverley, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, and Wayne Rooney each have two and Phil Jones, Alex Buttner, Rafael, Nemanja Vidic, and Adnan Januzaj have each picked up one.

image: © marcel sigg

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