As unbeaten runs go, this 20-match spurt Manchester United are currently on must rank as the least productive in English league history. Twenty matches since they faced defeat at Stamford Bridge in October and United have climbed all of one place to sit in fifth. As the business end of the season arrives with a rush their pursuit of Champions League-attaining fourth place has all the conviction of a drunk staggering around in search of the last taxi of the night.
Speaking after yesterday evening’s scrambled, frantic, desperate draw with Everton, earned after Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted a last-second penalty, Jose Mourinho was not shirking from the real meaning of the run.
“20 unbeaten, but ten draws,” he said. “I would sign immediately next season 20 matches unbeaten, but we need to score goals to win matches.
"We are third worst [in the Premier League] in relation with shots and number of goals we score. That says everything.
He is not wrong there. Even the return of Ibrahimovic from his enforced break did not see a significant uplift in the goals-for column. Mourinho’s side have scored just 21 times in 16 home games this season, nine of which have ended in stalemate. Nine home draws: that is no way to win a title. As it turns out, it is no way to reach the top four either. Indeed, with a home league win percentage of just 38 per cent, that makes Mourinho currently the least successful United boss at accruing points at Old Trafford since Frank O’Farrell.
The problem, the manager reckons, is one of confidence. United can’t finish. Collectively they just cannot find the back of the net. With another one last night, Paul Pogba seems inadvertently to have embarked on a singular pursuit of the record number of shots against the woodwork. He has hit the post or bar ten times already this season.
Alongside him, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard have shown increasing evidence of second-season syndrome. Lingard spent most of last night submerged in irrelevance. While his good mate Rashford, as Mourinho pointed out, works like a Trojan, tearing up and down either wing, doing the leg work of half a dozen men. But when it comes to putting the ball in the net, the skill seems to have deserted him.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: United's unbeaten league run means nothing – goals and Euro wins are priority