Twitter data shows Man United are still the most ‘entertaining’ team around

No prizes for guessing who comes out on top of this week’s Premier League Twitter Club.

On a Tuesday morning after a bank holiday in the UK, it’s natural that the talk will turn to the weekend’s football around many water coolers up and down the country. But events on Monday night are on the lips of the fans.

The fact that one event stands out above all else is reflected on Twitter.

Between the hours of 12am on Saturday 25th August and midnight on Monday 27th, IQUII Sport analysed the tweets sent in numerous categories relevant to the Premier League weekend – from the club with the most engaged fanbase to the official hashtag which saw the most traffic. But despite the fact that Manchester United’s defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur kicked off just four hours before the end of this two-and-a-half day window it was the final game of the weekend that proved to be by far and away the most popular game.

It wouldn’t have surprised anyone that the biggest game of the weekend was the Monday night clash between two top six rivals. This was obviously always going to be the biggest given the two teams involved (and when United are involved, the game doesn’t even have to include a rival in order to make a splash on social), but the fact that it gained such massive traction in just a few hours is certainly testament to the entertainment it brought.

The word ‘entertainment’ is chosen carefully, because although the game itself was scrappy on occasion, it shows the power of the storyline in top-level football these days. Fans don’t just consume the games, but they consume everything around the game – the press conferences, the newspaper quotes, the social media hints dropped by unhappy players. It’s reality TV, but with the extra emotion that following a football club brings. And events before, during and after the game all played into the drama.

The power of that is seen in the Twitter data for #MUNTOT. Whereas all of the other games saw their hashtags used for several hours – in some cases days – after the game by fans reacting to what they’d seen all weekend, United’s game with Spurs still managed to almost double the engagements of each of the weekend’s other games in just a few hours on Monday night. Granted some of those tweets will have happened before the game, in the build-up, but many will have been responding to the match itself.

And that’s because it was a stunning game: not necessarily in terms of the football on show, but certainly because of what it means for the narrative. The already-beleaguered Jose Mourinho saw his side defeated heavily by a rival before storming out of a press conference demanding ‘respect’ from the journalists afterwards.

Interestingly, the third most mentioned player of the weekend, too, was Luke Shaw. Manchester United’s left-back had a difficult game, and was seen at the end being encouraged by his manager. It was just another side note to a remarkable night of football.

On the flip side of all this, however, is that despite all of the interest surrounding the club, it’s hard to measure just what United get out of this. Clearly this wasn’t a good night for them, the vast majority of those tweets couldn’t have been positive in their sentiment. Indeed, these were tweets either by fans venting their rage or interested bystanders gawking at the car crash – because despite generating huge numbers, that wasn’t translated to engagement with the club’s official Twitter account. Despite being the most-mentioned clubs of the weekend (by a long distance) United were not even in the top five most engaging clubs as their tweets weren’t liked and shared.

It was a stunning night at Old Trafford, enough to generate more interest than any other game at the weekend, mostly thanks to the storyline surrounding United and the suspense over whether Jose Mourinho will be able to hold onto his job and turn things around.

And it shows that the power of Premier League football isn’t just the on-pitch content that TV broadcasters pay billions for the rights to show. It’s also in the soap opera surrounding the teams and their biggest personalities.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 731 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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