Man Utd mediocrity GFX Getty

Scraping past the weaker sides, outplayed by the top teams - Man Utd are destined for mediocrity unless things change

Predicting results is never an easy business, as last weekend's flurry of late goals in the Premier League emphatically demonstrated. But for fans of betting accumulators or those in prediction leagues with their friends and family, Manchester United have made things a lot easier.

There is a very simple way to work out how Erik ten Hag's side are going to fare in the Premier League each week: simply look at the league table. If United's opponents are in the bottom half, then they will win, more often than not (the only bottom-half side they have lost to is Crystal Palace). It might not be pretty or convincing, but they will almost-certainly win.

But whenever the Red Devils play a team from the top half of the table, they lose. Without fail. And often dismally. Saturday's defeat at Newcastle, which was the finest example of a 1-0 thrashing, has emphatically quashed any hopes of a genuine revival after a brief upturn in results against bottom-half opponents.

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And unless United can reverse their predictable tendency to fade as soon as they face a quality side, then all they can hope for is an upper-mid-table finish. In other words, the only destination is mediocrity.