Jose Mourinho has claimed he would prefer to be 20 Premier League matches undefeated than five points better off in the table because he is convinced the long unbeaten run will benefit his team’s mentality in the longer-term.
But the Manchester United manager has admitted the team is “not strong or good enough to score the goals we should”.
United have won ten and drawn ten of their past 20 league games and were held to draw in their past two matches at home to West Bromwich Albion and Everton, with Mourinho again bemoaning his team’s wastefulness in both outings.
They have drawn nine matches in total at Old Trafford in the league this term but, despite those dropped points leaving Mourinho with an uphill task to finish in the top four, the Portuguese said he would prefer to have drawn 10 games than won five and lost five. United are currently four points adrift of Manchester City, albeit with a game in hand.
“I still think we are strong at home,” Mourinho said. “That is my feeling. It is good to know we don’t lose many matches - 20 unbeaten. I know 10 draws are 10 points. Five wins and five defeats is fifteen points. What is better? The 15 points obviously.
"But in terms of looking at the future I prefer to look at 10 matches, 10 draws. It shows you are quite mentally solid, difficult to be beaten. But the points are the reality.
“I still think in spite of the bad result - a draw is a bad result for us - we are strong at home. We lost only one game. We lost [to Manchester City] because strange things happened. One defeat at home. What makes me think we’re strong is the way opponents play against us. It has been a big change.
“Before I came here I saw matches where the opponents came here thinking they could win and many times lost to counter attack goal. Martial and Rashford scored counter attack goals. It is impossible for us to score on the counter attack this season. Teams come here thinking about defending, about not losing.
“We are not strong enough because we are not winning, we are not strong or good enough to score the goals we should. I repeat the same as I told post-match [against Everton], it is not [me] being critical but there are many, many decisions that punished us during the whole season. But I still think we are strong at home.”
United travel to bottom club Sunderland on Sunday, with Mourinho voicing some sympathy for their embattled manager, David Moyes. Moyes, the former United manager, has seen his problems worsen after being engulfed in a sexism storm following his treatment of a BBC reporter.
“I have sympathy with every manager that is fighting hard to reach their objectives and he’s in trouble to do it,” said Mourinho ,who referenced his mid-season sacking by Chelsea last term. “In the end there is one team who will be champions and there are three teams who will be relegated.
“But everyone is a good professional, everyone gives everything, everyone fights all season. Some of us, we are sacked in the middle of the season, it’s difficult for everyone, so, of course, I have sympathy. That’s normal.”
Wayne Rooney will miss the Sunderland game as well as Ashley Young through injury. Rooney, the United captain has been suffering from pain in both ankles, according to Mourinho. Mourinho also said he had made a decision on the future of United winger, Adnan Januzaj, currently on loan at Sunderland, but would not confirm what that was.
One winger who does have a future at Old Trafford is Jesse Lingard. The England player, 24, signed a new four year contract on Thursday with Mourinho pleased to keep an academy graduate.
“I think he’s a good player already,” Mouinho said. “Because of his age and happiness in the work, I think he has conditions to be even better.
"Apart from that he is English, made in the academy. These players are very important for clubs. Made at home so it’s a very important contract.
"I congratulate him and obviously the board agrees to give me this stability. It’s important for me to know he’s not in danger [of leaving], it’s a situation in our control.”