Tuesday 21 November 2017

Goals can spur us on, says Jose

Reds boss says Rooney and other strikers must get clinical for 'top four' tilt

Jose Mourinho has been pleased with his side's displays but is well aware of the missing ingredient, highlighted by Rooney managing a solitary Premier League goal this term
Jose Mourinho has been pleased with his side's displays but is well aware of the missing ingredient, highlighted by Rooney managing a solitary Premier League goal this term

Jose Mourinho needs more goals from Wayne Rooney and the rest of his attackers if Manchester United's Premier League campaign is to be revived.

The positives of progress to the Europa League knockout stages and League Cup semi-finals have been tempered somewhat by their league frustrations.

Mourinho's men sit an eye-watering 13 points off the lead and nine behind the top four just 14 matches into the season.

A lack of cutting edge has been key, managing just seven goals in their last eight league matches - as many as Alexis Sanchez has scored for Arsenal on his own during that period.

Mourinho has been pleased with his side's displays but is well aware of the missing ingredient, highlighted by Rooney managing a solitary Premier League goal this term.

Expect

"With me, he is an attacking player," the United boss said of his skipper, whose only goal came on the opening day at Bournemouth.

"In the national team, they can do with him what they want to do.

Wayne Rooney is substituted by manager Jose Mourinho after another blank against Zorya Luhansk on Thursday night
Wayne Rooney is substituted by manager Jose Mourinho after another blank against Zorya Luhansk on Thursday night

"In the national team he is their player, he is not my player, and they can do what they want. If they want to play him right-back, they can play him right-back. It's not my problem.

"In my team, he is an attacking player - he will play as a nine or a 10, or eventually coming from one of the sides.

"So as an attacking player, normally he scores more goals. He scored a couple, I think at Fenerbahce and one in the Premier League. We expect more goals from him, yes, but we expect more goals from everyone in the team.

"Maybe Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) is the one but as the main striker it is normal that he has more goals scored. But all the other attacking players, we expect more goals from them."

Anthony Martial has managed just one league goal, while Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford's three-goal hauls make them the next top scorers behind Ibrahimovic.

The veteran Swede netted a seventh goal in six matches in all competitions as United reached the Europa League last 32 with a 2-0 win at Zorya Luhansk on Thursday.

While frustrated at a lack of goals, Mourinho, declared himself "happy" with how his team is developing.

"So many draws that we deserve victories. If you could transform these draws into victories we would be very close to the top of the league, in between the top three or top four so I find more unfair but there is only one way - keep working," he said.

"I am very happy with the evolution of the team. I am very happy with the difference between the team I inherited and the team which is playing now and I keep saying the same: when you play very, very well you can expect good things to arrive so no frustration, just hope."

Mourinho added he is "totally convinced" that United will start converting draws into wins and believes that, in terms of style of football and how they set up, the team are ahead of schedule and are exceeding his initial expectations. "In terms of the equality of our game and the organisation of our football I think we are above what I would expect," he said. "The evolution was really good. I am just a bit disappointed with that because I see teams in the Premier League - they are not comparable to us in terms of the quality of their game and they have much more points than us."

While underperforming in attack, United have done slightly better defensively given the number of injuries they have had to deal with. Eric Bailly's return to action after six weeks out with a knee injury is a timely boost ahead of the festive period, but Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling remain absent.

Neither will be fit to face Tottenham tomorrow, with Mourinho now hoping centre-back Smalling can return from his foot issue before Bailly heads off to the African Nations Cup with the Ivory Coast in January.

"(Bailly) is a big loss but we know that, so let's hope that Smalling can recover in time to replace him in the squad," he said.

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