Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho had no qualms Friday in proclaiming his Manchester United side not good enough to rid themselves of the unwanted tag of Premier League draw specialists.
United go to Sunderland on Sunday after a 20-match unbeaten run in the top flight, but having drawn 10 of those matches.
Seven of the stalemates have come at Old Trafford, including the last two against West Bromwich Albion and Everton, while United have drawn nine games in total at home this season.
“We’re not good enough or strong enough because we’re not winning, and we’re not good enough or strong enough to score the goals we should,” said Mourinho.
“We’re giving the opponents and their goalkeeper the chance to be man of the match so many times,” the United manager added.
“But I still think in spite of bad results – because for us a draw is a bad result –- we’re strong at home.
“Why? Because we’ve only lost one game.”
Mourinho’s men head into the weekend a massive 18 points behind leaders Chelsea, albeit with a game in hand.
More immediately, with just nine league games left to play this season, they are four points off the top four and a place in next season’s Champions League.
Mourinho believes the unbeaten run, however, augurs well for the future confidence of the team.
“What makes me think we’re strong is the way opponents play against us because that’s a big change,” he said.
– ‘Good feeling’ –
“I saw matches in previous seasons when teams came to Old Trafford thinking they thought they could win, they played an open game and played an ‘eye in the eye game’ and many times lost with a counter-attack goal.
“I’ve watched and analysed Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford’s counter-attacking goals and it’s impossible for us to score in a counter attack because teams come to Old Trafford thinking not about winning but about not losing.
“Looking to next season, I think it’s a good feeling to know we haven’t lost many matches.
“It’s good to know we’re 20 matches undefeated in the Premier League. Ten draws in 10 matches is 10 points; five victories and five defeats in 10 matches is 15 points.
“But the points are the reality.”
Meanwhile, Mourinho defended Jesse Lingard’s new contract, worth a reported £100,000 ($124,693, 117,148 euros) a week.
The 24-year-old England international has committed his future to United until 2021.
The award of such a lucrative contract to a squad player who has played just 70 times, with just one Premier League goal this season has led to questions over whether young players have the hunger to succeed if this is how they are rewarded for relatively modest displays.
But Mourinho said: “I think he (Lingard) is a good player already and because of his age and happiness in the work, I think he has conditions to be even better.
“Apart from that, he’s English, he’s made in the (United) academy which is very important.
“So it’s a very important contract and I congratulate him and the board to reward him with it.
“It also gives stability for me, because it’s important for me to know that (his future) is not in danger and out of our control.”
Mourinho was non-committal over the future of Adnan Januzaj, who has failed to impress in a season-long loan at bottom club Sunderland.
The 22-year-old’s contract is up in just over a year’s time and Mourinho, asked about Januzaj, said: “Yes, I have decided”, without elaborating any further.
Sunderland, are 10 points from safety in bottom place with eight games left and Mourinho had words of consolation for Black Cats manager David Moyes, one of his predecessors at Old Trafford.
“I have sympathy for any manager that is fighting hard to reach his objectives, and he’s in trouble to do it,” he said.
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