Low confidence, go long

5 April 2017 01:28

Jose Mourinho claimed a lack of confidence among his Manchester United players was the reason for their direct approach during the second half of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Everton.

Days on from Saturday’s stalemate against West Brom, United appeared set to draw another frustrating blank at Old Trafford after Phil Jagielka put the visitors in front midway through the first half.

But Luke Shaw – much maligned by his manager – fired in a stoppage-time shot that a sprawling Ashley Williams handled on the line to be sent off before Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted from the spot.

By that stage, Everton appeared to have seen off an aerial bombardment – with former Goodison Park favourite Marouane Fellaini to the fore – and Mourinho was frank about the reasons for United’s change of style during the second period.

“If you compare the second half to the first half, the second half was much better,” he told a post-match news conference. “And it was difficult to improve because I could feel some of the boys a little bit in trouble with the confidence levels.

“When the confidence levels are not high the quality of the performance is not easy to improve so we had to go through a shortcut.

“We had to do it from the attitude point of view. We started playing in a way where you don’t feel so much the lack of confidence of some of the boys – we started playing more direct.”

Mourinho noted a particular lack of confidence in Marcus Rashford, who last found the net in the Premier League during September’s 4-1 win over Leicester City, but he praised the teenage England international’s application.

“It’s easy to see in the kid. He’s desperate, he tries,” Mourinho said.

“It is not a surprise for me… the second year after the first one. But the kid is phenomenal, an amazing professional.

“So, no problem. I told him just now, ‘no problem, keep going’.”

United have now gone 20 matches unbeaten in the Premier League but remain outside the Champions League places – largely on account of drawing 10 games during this period.

“I think we made progress in many, many, many things but I was always a very pragmatic manager,” Mourinho added.

“So many times I was criticised for that. I don’t want now to sell you philosophy like many like to do.

“I stick with the numbers and them numbers are the numbers. Twenty matches unbeaten is amazing, I would sign for that next year immediately. In the modern Premier League it is really difficult to do it but we need to score goals to win matches.

“How many goals do we score with these attacking players? Not enough.

“There are teams that have three chances, two goals, three points, goodbye. We have five, six, seven chances, we don’t score and then we are in trouble.”

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