It’s Official: Liverpool are currently worse than David Moyes’s Manchester United
In the pantheon of appalling Premier League titles Chelsea 2015/16 and Leicester City 2016/17 stand front and centre as the worst examples. Following this, however, would have to be David Moyes’s Manchester United 2013/14. Moyes’s nine-month stint went from being handpicked as Sir Alex Ferguson’s ‘chosen one’ to his banner being almost torn down by angry fans. Liverpool fans at the time gloated about the Scotsman’s troubles. Yet, now in the defence of their first Premier League title, the Merseysiders are officially worse in terms of points than Moyes’s Red Devils.
On 9th February 2014 Manchester United found themselves, after 25 league matches played, 7th in the league following a 2–2 draw at home with Fulham. This was the match of 81 crosses, 18 of which found a teammate, as Ferguson’s former first-team coach René Meulensteen left Old Trafford with a point. Manchester United had already exited the FA Cup at the third round to Swansea City and, having made the semi-finals, were knocked out of the League Cup on penalties to Sunderland. They had won their Champions League Group and were about to play Olympiacos in the Round of 16 before being knocked out by Bayern Munich in the Quarter-Finals. Their only piece of silverware of the season was the 2013 Community Shield beating Wigan Athletic.
On 20th February 2020 Liverpool played their 25th league match of the 2020/21 season losing 2–0 at home to Everton. This was their fourth defeat in a row. They are sixth in the league. They already have been knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester United in the fourth round and out of the League Cup by Arsenal, also in the fourth round. Like Manchester United, they won their Champions League group yet look far from the favourites for the competition. They also lost the 2020 Community Shield to Arsenal.
Liverpool have won fewer matches and conceded more than Moyes’s United. They have managed more goals and fewer defeats but the end result is 40 points from 25 matches compared to Moyses’s 41 from 25 in 2014.
Looking at the drop in quality from the previous season is startling. Moyes was always going to struggle coming in after Sir Alex yet it was still surprising when his United won 21 fewer points after 25 matches than the 2012/13 champions had managed. Liverpool have managed to drop 33 points from the same position last season.
Much has been made of Liverpool’s injuries and the strange circumstances of the pandemic. True, Jurgen Klopp’s choice of a thin squad has backfired yet in many ways this drop in quality was predictable. As I’ve already written Liverpool outperformed their expected points last season by nearly 25. 14 of their 32 wins were by a single goal. After 25 matches last season Liverpool were outperforming their expected points by 20.41 points.
In comparison, this season they would be expected only 3.99 more points than they’ve achieved. In other words whilst they were overperforming by 20.41 points they are only slightly underperforming this time around. Unfortunately, the data for the 2013/14 season is not available to compare. Regression to the mean was to be expected and we are seeing it now. Their 7–2 defeat to Aston Villa was due to be the biggest away defeat of the season until United beat Southampton 9–0. Regression to the mean was to be expected and we are seeing it now. Their 7–2 defeat to Aston Villa was due to be the biggest away defeat of the season until United beat Southampton 9–0.
Liverpool are now 19 points from the summit of the Premier League. Their championship defence now ranks along with Moyse. Klopp has already conceded the title. He has experienced tremendous tragedy in recent months which must be putting a lot of his team’s travails into perspective and deserves immense sympathy. Maybe he’ll take a break soon. His Dortmund side of 2014/15 serves as a warning. Whilst it would be fanciful to see his Liverpool fighting relegation it is possible that there is more gas in this explosion.