Juan Mata: Manchester United are on the right track under Jose Mourinho

by Leo Nieboer

Juan Mata believes Manchester United are on the right track despite failing to score against Burnley last weekend.

Jose Mourinho’s side created chance after chance against Sean Dyche’s side, launching 37 attempts on goal, but couldn’t get past former Man United keeper Tom Heaton, who had perhaps the best game of his career.

The result leaves United five points off fourth spot at the end of October and eight points behind leaders Manchester City.

However Mata, writing in his weekly blog, believes Mourinho’s men are heading in the right direction.

“We had countless shots on target, but between the woodwork, the defenders and, especially, the goalkeeper’s outstanding performance, the goal never came,” he said.

“I know it sounds repetitive but this sport is like that. There are games when the score is cruel and it doesn’t reflect how well you did. Sometimes you don’t deserve to win but you end up with three points, and sometimes is the opposite.

“I honestly think that our performance on Saturday reinforces the idea of a team that we want to show in the long term, more than if it had been a lucky win after a bad game.

“If we had taken a couple of the chances that we had, now we would be talking about one of our best games of the season, so we shouldn’t see this from an extremely negative perspective when we did so many things well.

“I strongly believe that the team is on the right track, after all the hard work we put on the pitch. We proved that on Wednesday when we defeated Manchester City in the EFL Cup. We came from a tough defeat and the team showed that we are united and we are able to beat anyone.”

A notable trend is starting to develop under Mourinho: impressive, domineering displays, replete with clear cut chances, only to be let down by a total lack of conviction in front of goal.

I mean, just let me say it again. You’re not processing it properly: 37 shots. Thirty seven. I don’t think United, under Louis van Gaal‘s management last season, managed that many attempts on goal by Christmas.

The point, I guess, is that United’s problems aren’t rooted in Mourinho’s system itself. The 53-year-old has devised an approach – a system, if you will – that precipitates countless chances. United’s kryptonite boils down to a simple lack of conviction in front of goal – a kind of mental fragility that precludes them from finishing off their opponent on a regular basis.

Mourinho will know this better than anyone, and United fans will hope to see the 53-year-old address this psychological impasse currently infecting the squad sooner rather than later.

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