A few years ago Manchester United beat Roma 7-1 in a Champions League match at Old Trafford. If you watched the match though, the reds did not look particularly dominant. They had the same amount of possession as Roma, and Roma actually created more chances. So why was it such a shellacking? Finishing. Manchester United had 7 shots and scored 7 goals.
Yesterday at the Reebok, Manchester United had 11 shots on goal. 6 were blocked by Bolton defenders, 5 found the back of the net. Now don't get me wrong, Manchester United is playing tremendous football right now, but they are going to come back to earth at some point. The club has some tremendous finishers, but this level of efficiency is just not sustainable.
To give some context, the top goal-scorers in the world, the big names that everyone knows, score a goal for every 5 shots, about a 20% success rate. Wayne Rooney, for example, in 2009-2010, had 40 goals in all competitions. It took him 257 shots to get those goals. That's about 15%. In 2010-2011, he had 17 goals on 169 shots. That's about 10%. This season, he already has 11 goals on only 44 shots. That's 25%, and that is not going to continue.
Robin van Persie was at 19% last season. Darren Bent, coming off of 2 straight twenty-goal seasons, is at about 20% over that time period. Didier Drogba's best season was 2009-2010, when he scored a phenomenal 44 goals. That took him 222 shots, a conversion rate of just under 20%.
Now, you might expect the top of the pile to be better than that. Cristiano Ronaldo has 4 straight thirty-goal seasons under his belt. Last season he scored a mind boggling 56 goals, including 40 in 32 league matches. His conversion rate? 16%. And Leo Messi? He has 100 goals in his last 2 seasons. He has taken just under 500 shots in that period. 20%.
My point? 5 goals from 11 shots against Bolton. 8 goals from 25 shots against Arsenal. This is not going to continue. We are more likely to see performances similar to what United did against Tottenham, wins, and for the most part comfortable wins, but 3 goals instead of 5 or 8.