This weekend saw Manchester United awarded yet another crucial penalty that provided the English club with a goal that decided the match. This time, Aston Villa was on the receiving end of the referee’s call after Paul Pogba essentially tripped himself. The seemingly inordinate number of PKs United have enjoyed since the beginning of the 2019 season has been mentioned repeatedly, mostly by non-United supporters though there have been some notable Red Devil blogs to note the obvious.
While the number of penalties has been tallied here and there, the advantage given to Manchester United has been mostly anecdotal. We decided to get our hands dirty and provide a little clarity on the matter. We ask the questions: Have United been given more penalties than other clubs? Have the penalties been given at key junctures during a match? Has Manchester United’s record been quantifiable improved by penalties?
For the sake of keeping things clean, we’ll stay away from making any judgments. We’re just giving numbers.
Have United been given more penalties than other clubs?
This first chart compares the penalties awarded to English clubs across all competitions. As a result, clubs playing in European tournaments will have a few more opportunities to accrue penalties. Nonetheless, Manchester United enjoyed a clear advantage, especially compared to smaller clubs. Their crosstown rivals enjoyed the second most PKs.
|Brighton & Hove Albion||8|
|West Ham United||5|
When the 2020/2021 season is included, Manchester United’s PK advantage balloons to 33 in total. However, the 12 PKs they’ve been awarded have been in line with those awarded Chelsea who have registered 11 PKs so far this season. City have had a meager 4 PKs. The 2019-2021 graph shows United’s advantage continuing to grow.
Have the penalties been given at key junctures during a match?
Not all penalties are equal. Taking a PK while enjoying a 5-0 lead isn’t the same as winning a PK when the score is 0-0. Penalties that give teams the first goal of the match may be the most significant since they completely change the tenor of match play. A case can obviously made that a go-ahead goal late in a game holds the same weight. Time awarded also plays a big role.
In order to assess whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his club have enjoyed a decided advantage due to their penalties we documented the time a PK was awarded, what the score was prior to the penalty, and the final score. For comparison’s sake, we compiled both Manchester clubs’ PK records.
First Manchester United –
|DATE||OPPONENT||TIME||SCORE PRIOR||MADE?||SCORE END||ADVANTAGE UNITED?*|
|2020-09-26||Brighton & Hove Albion||90+10m||2-2||Y||3-2||Y|
|2020-11-21||West Bromwich Albion||55m||0-0||N||1-0||Y|
|West Bromwich Albion||56m||0-0||Y||1-0||Y|
And Manchester City –
|DATE||OPPONENT||TIME||SCORE PRIOR||MADE?||SCORE END||ADVANTAGE CITY?*|
Has Manchester United’s record been quantifiable improved by penalties?
A mind-boggling 15 penalties were awarded to Manchester United when the score was 0-0. Of those 15 matches, they lost only 1. Moreover, 22 penalties were awarded that broke a tie score, of which United won 20 matches.
So has Manchester United been provided with a significant advantage over the span of a season and a half due to penalty kicks awarded?
According to our criteria, yes.