Wednesday 20 September 2017

Mourinho sends warning to goal-shy support acts to ease the scoring burden on Lukaku

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho

James Ducker

Jose Mourinho has warned that Manchester United could run into trouble this season unless his midfielders and wingers sharpen up their act in front of goal.

And the United manager has pointed out that his remarkable record of winning the domestic title in the second season at his previous clubs offers no guarantees that the trend will continue this term.

United were reliant on Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 17 league goals - and 28 all told - before a cruciate knee ligament cut short his season in April.

Mourinho confirmed yesterday that the club were in talks about re-signing the Swede for the second half of the new campaign.

Romelu Lukaku will be tasked with spearheading United's attack following his £75m move from Everton and Mourinho believes it is imperative that other players chip in with goals.

United's second top scorer in the league last season was Juan Mata with six, while Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and the now departed Wayne Rooney each managed five.

"What I had in other clubs was more players scoring goals, what we had was midfielders, wingers scoring, central defenders scoring goals at set-pieces," Mourinho (pictured right) said.

"We always had more goals with wingers, midfielders getting 10 goals, central defenders getting five goals, and last season that didn't happen much.

"We were focused on the striker scoring goals, and when it didn't happen we were in trouble.

"The challenge is to win more matches than we did, by scoring more or conceding less, I don't know. We lost only one league match at home and in the cups never lost (at home), but there were too many draws.

"We had lots of dominance at home, lots of chances, lots (of times) when the match should be two or three nil and in the end was 1-1. But to have better positions in the table we need to win more.

"It's not because I have always done it (won the title in my second season at other clubs) that I am going to do it (with United).

"There's no relation between others or a guarantee. But I think naturally a manager in the second season knows the club and players better."

United face competition from AC Milan to re-sign Ibrahimovic, but Mourinho believes the 35-year-old has unfinished business in the Premier League.

"It was very clear by showing what he did last year was not enough for him," he said.

Meanwhile, Chelsea kick off their title defence against Burnley today with Antonio Conte still frustrated both by the club's failure to make more signings and by the decision to allow Nemanja Matic to join United.

"Honestly, if you have to give your evaluation, it's right not to put Chelsea to be a favourite," said Conte.

"In this moment, I agree with these people who think this. I am not looking for any sympathy."

Michy Batshuayi is primed to lead the attack, with new signing Alvaro Morata admitting he needs time to adapt to Conte's methods. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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