Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United don’t know score, fumes Jose Mourinho


By Robert Jones

Jose Mourinho said that his Manchester United side are the third most wasteful in front of goal in the Premier League after they salvaged a last-minute draw against Everton.

In fact, Southampton, Sunderland and Middlesbrough all have worse shot conversion rates than United, who have managed more attempts on goal than any other side bar Tottenham Hotspur this season, but last night’s struggle — which saw Zlatan Ibhrahimovic net a late penalty to cancel out Phil Jagielka’s opener — proved how tough securing a top four place will be.

“There are different stats and the stats are never the same but the last one we are the second team in the Premier League with most shots but we are the third worst in the relation between the shots and the number of goals we score,” Mourinho said.

“We need to score goals to win matches. I say there is not one match at home that does not have emotion because we try until the end but we don’t score enough goals.”

Mourinho continued: "How many goals have (Marcus) Rashford, (Jesse) Lingard, (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan, (Paul) Pogba got? Paul has the record of (hitting) posts.

"How many goals from the attacking players? Not enough. There are some teams where three chances, three goals, three points."

The Portuguese eventually settled on a very basic, route one option with Ibrahimovic and Marouane Fellaini the targets in the box - saying that the more mechanical route was best suited to a side with less natural talent.

"It is the basic thing to play more direct," he said.

"You don't need so much talent, so much intention. It becomes more mechanic. To play the way you like to play, you need what you have, creativity, dynamic. I give them lots of freedom to interchange position but in the end you go pragmatism."

Though United's must vaunted unbeaten run has extended to 20 games, it has been an unconvincing one, littered with dropped points and including 10 draws.

Their home record is particularly indifferent. There have been nine draws at home and Burnley have four more wins on their own turf than Mourinho's side

Mourinho was again critical of Luke Shaw.

Despite giving him a 25-minute substitute's cameo that he said he was pleased with, the manager accused the full back of not doing enough of his own thinking.

"It was his body with my brain," Mourinho said.

"He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him. The communication was possible because we were very close. He cannot play with my brain. He must accelerate the process - 21 years old is old enough to have a better understanding but his contribution was good to improve the team.

"After 30 seconds he was almost in an assist position. He goes today in a positive feeling because his performance was positive."

With United claiming that Wayne Rooney was missing against his old club because of two ankle injuries, Mourinho cast doubt over whether the striker would be fit to face Sunderland on Sunday. "Two ankles so I don't know," he said.

Mourinho said a top four finish was becoming a more remote possibility.

"It is mathematically possible but depends on our opponents," he said. "It is an amazing run of 20 matches unbeaten but too many draws at home. Because of that we are in the position we are. We build well but we don't score enough goals, we don't kill off enough opponents and at the end of this season I think we will be punished by that."

Everton fell to a 3-1 defeat in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool on Saturday but boss Ronald Koeman was satisfied with his side's response despite the "painful" end to the game.

"I'm pleased. I was proud of the team (after the Liverpool game) and I'm still proud," he said.

"Our defending was terrific, it was really painful how we don't win the game. Yes, it was a penalty, but one minute before the end of the game it is always really painful.

"I was really confident in our defending, but (we needed to be) a little bit more clever maybe in the final pass because we got a lot of space."

Belfast Telegraph


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