Old Trafford

Manchester United have received the most cards since the 2018/19 season, data reveals

Manchester United have been shown more yellow or red cards than any other Premier League club since August 2018.

The data analyses all matches from the beginning of the 2018/19 season up to and including matchweek 29 of the 2023/24 season.

It includes statistics for 19 out of the 20 clubs who competed last season, with Luton Town excluded due to them only spending one season in the top flight.

It reveals that, in 218 matches, Manchester United received 436 yellow or red cards, an average of two per match.

Comparatively, local rivals Manchester City were shown 291 cards, 145 fewer than United, averaging 1.33 per match.

Dylan Penketh, CEO of Manchester United fan website UtdDistrict, believes the reasons his club have been disciplined so frequently may be due to how referees view United players.

He said: “More than anything, I feel these statistics bring light to the fact that Manchester United suffer from a perception problem among referees.

“Some of the club’s players over the last 30 years have been seen as intense, aggressive players, and therefore, they are naturally targeted by referees with warnings such as yellow cards for their behaviour.

“Past examples include players such as Roy Keane, and a more recent example is Casemiro, who was sent off twice last season.”

However, when considering the disciplinary record of Premier League clubs since 2018, it is worth noting that not all of the clubs that competed in the 2023/24 campaign have been in the league for all five seasons.

Nottingham Forest, who were promoted in 2022, are bottom of the table for total number of cards shown having only recieved 151.

But, when considering the number of cards given per Premier League match, Forest move to the top of the table with an average of 2.25.

While Manchester United are only fifth when considering cards per game, they still have the most of any club who have been in the Premier League for all five seasons that are included in this data.  

Liverpool, long-term rivals of both Manchester clubs, were shown the fewest cards per game of any Premier League club, having only received 281 cards in 218 matches, an average of 1.29 per game.

The data also details which Premier League referees have given out the most cards for each club in the division.

Manchester United have received the most cards from a single referee having received 52 from Mancunian referee Anthony Taylor. 

In fact, of the 19 current Premier League clubs included in the data, Taylor appeared in the top four worst referees for eight of them.

Penketh, 23, added: “With Anthony Taylor, the stats also point out that for the “Big Six” Premier League clubs, he is among the top three harshest referees for five of them, with the exception of Tottenham.

“This could mean Taylor generally uses yellow cards to try and police bigger teams in a more general sense, and the fact that he has handed more yellow cards to Manchester United than any other “Big Six” club could be a by-product of both this form of policing and the fact that United players are, either rightly or wrongly, preconceived as more aggressive players.”

However, when comparing Taylor to other Premier League referees who have officiated at least 40 matches, he is just ninth for the total number of cards per game.

*denotes referees who are no longer active in the PL.
Table: Ben McCrumSource: Footy AccumulatorsGet the dataCreated with Datawrapper

A spokesperson from Footy Accumulators added: “There’s always a referee that you see the name of on a matchday that sends shivers down your spine.

“Over the years, there have been many conspiracies and accusations that certain referees have made decisions based on the teams playing, and this research may confirm or deny some fans’ beliefs on how their team is treated by some referees.”

Featured Image: Nat Callaghan on Unsplash

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