If Manchester United had been able to hold onto their form at the end of the year, perhaps their struggles over the past decade would have been long history.
Substitute Marcus Rashford’s goal gave United a 1-0 win over Wolves on Saturday, continuing the theme of strong form at this time of year.
The Red Devils have not lost their last league match of the calendar year since they were defeated 3–2 by Blackburn Rovers in 2011, winning eight and drawing three of their 11 matches since then.
Here, Stats Perform recounts United’s impressive success as Erik ten Hag aims to revive the team that were the last English champions in 2012–13.
Blackburn’s birthday blues for Ferguson
Alex Ferguson turned 70 on December 31, 2011. However, his side didn’t deliver a worthy gift, suffering a 3-2 home defeat to Blackburn, who started the day in the bottom half of the Premier League.
United would have come out on top with three points, usurping neighbors Manchester City, but two goals from Yakubu gave Blackburn a 2-0 lead and although Dimitar Berbatov responded with a brace, Grant Hanley led Steve Keane’s winning side.
Of those who participated that day, two players remained at United, with David de Gea still the first goalkeeper. Phil Jones, the other survivor, was a player that United pulled away from Blackburn, expecting big success. He’s still at United, but it’s unlikely you’ll know that given Jones hasn’t made a first-team appearance this season.
At the end of the 2011-12 campaign, Manchester City were champions on goal difference with United, the first English league crown in 44 years, while Blackburn were relegated.
Ferguson’s birthday and New Year’s celebrations started on a sad note, and since then United have been trying to end the year on a more positive note.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0:1 Manchester United
Manchester United have won three away matches against Wolves for the first time in their history.
Marcus Rashford registers his 100th Premier League goal (65 goals, 35 assists). pic.twitter.com/g3ime1sUeU
— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) December 31, 2022
Signing on high
During the final Christmas and New Year period as United boss, Ferguson saw his team score 10 points in four games from 23 December to 1 January.
In their last match in 2012, an own goal by Gareth Macauley and a late Robin van Persie game-winner secured a 2–0 home win over West Bromwich Albion on 29 December.
It was the start of an 11-game unbeaten streak in United’s final league fixtures and another major step towards winning the title by 11 points.
Since then, United have won the league at the end of the year against Norwich City, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth, Burnley (twice) and Wolves (twice), as well as draws with Tottenham, ” Chelsea and Southampton.
Is United’s record run?
It’s not even a club record. United had 13 unbeaten league games between 1955 and 1967, so Ten Hag’s team has a lot of room to go to break that record.
Manchester City put together a 14-match unbeaten streak in their last Premier League match from 2002 to 2015. It came to an end on New Year’s Eve 2016, when Georginio Wijnaldum gave Liverpool a 1-0 win over Pep with an early header. Guardiola’s men at Anfield.