Why José Mourinho must make Manchester United more clinical
José Mourinho’s man-management style has come under yet more scrutiny, following his latest scathing attack on the work ethic of Luke Shaw. While shaming players in public might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the underlying stats seem to suggest that Mourinho is making steady progress as manager of Manchester United.
With the EFL Cup safely tucked away in the trophy cabinet and a Europa League two-legged quarter-final tie with Anderlecht to look forward to, the United manager can, at least for the short-term, focus on the Premier League and the race for those coveted Champions League places.
Unfortunately for Mourinho, though, Saturday’s goal-less draw with West Bromwich Albion highlighted the problem that has blighted United’s season. Footstats.co.uk produce a range of statistics, one of which measures the number of ‘shots on target’ each side is recording.
United’s lack of goals would suggest that they are not creating chances but that is clearly not the case and they are equally adept at restricting the number of chances that they are affording the opposition as illustrated by their ‘supremacy’ stat. The ‘shots on target’ metric is one of the strongest indicators of a team’s ability but it is United’s conversion rate that should really set alarm bells ringing. Arsenal are converting 41.43% of their shots on target into goals compared with just 24.28% for the Red Devils. Southampton are the only side in the division with a worse conversion rate.
Why have Manchester United been so inefficient in front of goal?
Perhaps United are over-reliant on Zlatan Ibrahimović. The veteran striker has 15 Premier League goals to show for his efforts so far this season and no Premier League player has attempted more shots per game than the former Paris Saint-Germain striker, according to WhoScored.
Ibra has certainly been guilty of squandering numerous chances, as have Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan but luck obviously plays its part as well.
United have come up against some inspired goalkeeping displays, with Tom Heaton’s performance at Old Trafford in October arguably the best any shot-stopper has produced this season.
Martial, Rashford and Mkhitaryan have all failed to nail down first team football, so it could be argued that their confidence has suffered as a result. They all have time on their side but Mourinho may be tempted to get the chequebook out in the summer and purchase that missing ingredient which can turn this current United side into genuine title challengers – a clinical finisher!