Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho admits top-four finish will be ‘very difficult’
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho said on Tuesday night that his side are the third-most wasteful in front of goal in the Premier League after they salvaged an unconvincing, last-minute draw against Everton.
In fact, Southampton, Sunderland and Middlesbrough all have worse shot conversion rates than United, who have managed more shots on goal than any other Premier League side bar Tottenham Hotspur this season, but Tuesday night’s struggle for a breakthrough proved how tough securing a top four place will be for the team.
“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. 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 on option with Zlatan 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 by 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 ten draws. United’s 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.”More difficult, very difficult,” he told the BBC. “It is mathematically possible but depends on our opponents. 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.”