Man Utd's worst seasons in Premier League history - ranked

  • No team has won more Premier League titles than Manchester United
  • Club has endured a decade of decline in wake of Sir Alex Ferguson's departure
  • Majority of United's worst Premier League seasons arrived post-Fergie
David Moyes endured a miserable spell as Manchester United manager
David Moyes endured a miserable spell as Manchester United manager / Jamie McDonald/GettyImages

"You know, this is Manchester United Football Club we're talking about here."

Pundits and commentators alike have seemingly been left in a perpetual state of shock regarding the demise of a grand insitution. Manchester United were the team for a generation.

Led by Sir Alex Ferguson for over two decades and inspired by many talents that grew up Manchester lads, United were the gold standard that their competitors aspired to be.

However, nothing has ever been quite the same since Fergie's retirement in 2013. Sure, there have been subdued peaks, but the troughs have largely outweighed any periods of optimism. Sustained success once synonymous with the club has eluded them, with mediocrity prevailing instead.

Here are the ten worst seasons in United's Premier League history based on their points tallies.

10. 2003/04 - 75 points

Soccer- Manchester United v Arsenal. Bar
Ruud van Nistelrooy could've ended Arsenal's unbeaten season before it got going / PAUL BARKER/GettyImages

This is the sole Ferguson-led season which features on this list, and it was hardly a disaster. United were only beaten to the title by one of the all-time great Premier League sides: Arsenal's Invincibles.

Perhaps the campaign would've played out differently had Ruud van Nistelrooy ended the Gunners' unbeaten run in September with that penalty before it really got going.

Still, United were top of the tree in late January before they lost away at Wolves, lost Rio Ferdinand to an eight-month ban, and embarked on a four-game winless run either side of the March international break. The title was long gone after that, and three more defeats from their final six games meant the lowest Premier League points tally of the Fergie era.

9. 2020/21 - 74 points

Manchester United v Medipol Basaksehir - UEFA Champions League
Man Utd started the 2020/21 season slowly / Anadolu/GettyImages

A strong end to 2019/20 meant United entered 2020/21 rather optimistic over their title chances. However, a poor start to the season meant they were almost immediately playing catch-up.

United suffered a humiliating 6-1 home defeat to Tottenham on matchday three and lost to a mediocre Arsenal team at Old Trafford three weeks later. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed on the brink, but the Red Devils settled.

They lost just one of their next 29 Premier League games - remarkably to a woeful Sheffield United side - but a streak of draws before the March break allowed Man City to build a healthy lead at the summit. Two defeats during the final month of the season meant Ole's United finished with 74 points.

8. 2014/15 - 70 points

Louis van Gaal
There was something to build on from Louis van Gaal's debut season / Jamie McDonald/GettyImages


The esteemed Dutchman was tasked with completing a similar rebuild job to the one he performed at Bayern Munich just a few years prior. Van Gaal returned the German giants to the top of the European game while shifting the club away from traditional values with which they'd grown disillusioned.

However, Van Gaal, off the back of taking an unfancied Netherlands side to third place at the 2014 World Cup, entered a messy situation at Old Trafford and he was never able to oversee a notable shift in philosophy. United were often drab and dull with the Dutchman at the helm, with high profile signings like Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao flopping horribly.

United boasted an impressive defensive record and there's no doubt that Van Gaal was able to introduce a stable structure, but they didn't score enough goals to compete for the title. A fourth-place finish wasn't disastrous, though. It was something to build upon.

7. 2016/17 - 69 points

Jose Mourinho, Marouane Fellaini
An iconic relationship / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Jose Mourinho's maiden voyage in Manchester followed a similar pattern. United started the season slowly before coming into their own over the winter.

However, despite enjoying a 25-game unbeaten run between October and April, the Red Devils never reached higher than fifth in the league table. They appeared light years behind Antonio Conte's Chelsea, who had revolutionised the division by introducing the ultimate 3-4-2-1.

One win from their final five games meant United finished outside the top four with 69 points, but they did enjoy success in the Carabao Cup and Europa League, winning both competitions.

6. 2019/20 - 66 points

Bruno Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Bruno Fernandes had an immediate impact in Manchester / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Solskjaer was fully at the wheel come the start of an unprecedented 2019/20 season. The campaign was halted midway through due to the Covid-19 pandemic, although the break seemed to work wonders for the Red Devils.

When the Premier League returned in the summer, United, inspired by January arrival Bruno Fernandes, rattled off a nine-game unbeaten run. Victory over Leicester on the final day saw them squeak into the top-four.

Given the depths they sunk to during the first half of the season, very few predicted such an impressive resurgence during 'Project Restart' in particular. Still, their 66-point haul is one of their lowest returns.

5. 2015/16 - 66 points

Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Memphis Depay
Man Utd scored just 49 Premier League goals in 2015/16 / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

The foundations built by Van Gaal in year one were never sturdy, and United worsened during the Dutchman's second season.

A five-game winless run during the festive period proved crippling as it quickly became clear that Van Gaal's tired methodology was not going to ascend the club to the heights it desired.

There were issues on the recruitment front again as Memphis Depay became the latest lucrative addition to struggle for the Red Devils.

Their sluggish, possession-heavy style paled in comparison to the exuberance of upstarts Tottenham, and a 3-0 defeat at White Hart Lane in April depicted two clubs heading in alternate directions with their project managers. United often struggled to manage shots on target and scored a measly 49 goals that season - their lowest hail in Premier League history.

It had become clear earlier that Van Gaal would not be the man to lead United forward - even if he did claim FA Cup glory at Wembley.

4. 2018/19 - 66 points

Jose Mourinho, Michael Carrick
Jose Mourinho was sacked following a 3-1 defeat at Anfield in December 2018 / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Who knows how far United would've fallen had the club allowed Mourinho's third season to play out in full.

Instead, they cut ties with the three-time Premier League champion in December with the Red Devils in sixth.

Solskjaer was tasked with taking the job on as caretaker boss and was later handed the full-time position after overseeing dramatic improvement. However, things would take a turn in the wake of permanent arrival.

United finished 2018/19 with two wins from nine and a meagre 66 points.

3. 2013/14 - 64 points

David Moyes
David Moyes was out of his depth at Man Utd / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Remember, he got the job As Fergue's handpicked successor.

Ah, 2013/14 Manchester United: the start of the collapse.

With Sir Alex jetting off into the sunset with another league title in his back pocket, Ferguson's parting gift following more than two decades of dominance was the appointment of his successor: "Moyeseh".

David Moyes had done an excellent job at Everton, but it quickly became clear that this position was a level above. The Scotsman was simply out of his depth, and his decision to replace Fergie's backroom staff proved fatal.

An ageing United team not sufficiently supported by a new hierarchy behind the scenes were woeful under Moyes, embarking on a miserable title defence as they slumped to their lowest-ever Premier League finish (seventh). Moyes lasted just ten months of a six-year contract.

2. 2023/24 - 60 points

Erik ten Hag, Casemiro
Erik ten Hag is set to oversee United's worst Premier League season ever / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

The 2023/24 season will be remembered as one of their worst in Premier League history.

Oddly, it arrived after a season of distinct optimism. They finally appeared to have found the right manager with Erik ten Hag enjoying a hugely promising debut campaign which returned the Carabao Cup trophy and a top-four finish.

However, 2022/23 proved to be nothing more than a false dawn for the Red Devils. There have undoubtedly been mitigating factors for Ten Hag, most notably injuries, but the sheer tactical inadequacy of his side has been astounding.

United are bereft of any defensive structure, surrender shots at will, and are bound to concede more goals than they've ever done in a single Premier League season. The emergence of Kobbie Mainoo and continued development of Alejandro Garnacho have at least supplied some glimmers in an otherwise grim campaign for the club.

1. 2021/22 - 58 points

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo's goals couldn't save Man Utd in 2021/22 / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

United had secured a major coup heading into the 2021/22 season, with all-time great Cristiano Ronaldo returning to the club.

With Ronaldo back at Old Trafford, there was a sense of something special brewing on the red side of Manchester. The Portuguese superstar dazzled on his second home debut, but it didn't take long for things to turn sour.

Ronaldo clearly still knew where the back of the net was, but he didn't exactly aid the collective. Ole's Red Devils slumped to five defeats in seven games over the autumn, with Solskjaer losing his job following a 4-1 defeat away at a bad Watford side.

His warranted sacking then sparked one of the more confused periods in the club's modern history. United opted against appointing a permanent manager mid-season, instead bringing gegenpressing godfather Ralf Rangnick in on an interim basis.

The German's tenure started brightly, but it deteriorated into misery by the end. So much so that Rangnick, who wasn't exactly afraid of highlighting the problems that existed at the club, didn't move into the hierarchical position
at the end of the season, as was initially proposed.