Jose Mourinho believes his Manchester United side have lacked a clinical edge in front of goal this season.
The 53-year-old saw his side slump to sixth spot during a period that saw Man United dominate games but constantly fail to convert chances, with draws against Burnley, Arsenal, Everton and West Ham United springing to mind.
United managed to rectify this issue over the December period, winning nine games in a row, but recent draws with Liverpool and Stoke City demonstrated that their malaise in front of goal was far from being fully resolved.
And Mourinho, speaking after the 1-1 draw with Stoke, noted that a failure to convert chances was severely damaging his side’s hopes of breaching the top four.
“A top team has to be much more clinical,” he said.
“You have to get the first chance of the match and ‘bang’ 1-0, when you are winning by a goal then the next chance ‘boom’, kill the opponent and we are not doing that enough.
“We did that in a couple of matches but even in the matches that we won, if I remember for example Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace, it is always hard to score goals.”
United fans will know that their side, under Mourinho, can produce truly powerful performances, replete with numerous chances in front of goal – a far cry from the beleaguered, uninspiring outfit seen under Louis van Gaal last season.
But supporters will also know that, for all their attacking bravado, Mourinho’s men have to be more ruthless in front of goal. The draw against Stoke over the weekend once again underscored this issue; United created numerous openings, but you could almost sense that, for some reason, they wouldn’t capitalise on their sweeping domination.
United will, no doubt, need to resolve this issue once and for all if they want to compete with the top four over the next few months.