"We cannot score a goal even when we are one on one,” sighed a bewildered Jose Mourinho.
His side had just slumped to yet another home draw, their eighth in 15 matches at Old Trafford – 18 shots not enough to break the deadlock versus a dogged West Brom outfit that had mustered just a single shot on target all afternoon.
"The reality is that we are playing well,” insisted Mourinho. “The team is doing what we ask. We create the opportunities but we are not scoring the goals and we are suffering because we want to win the matches.”
Three days later it would be more of the same, when only a 94th-minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty would rescue a point at home to Everton after 17 previous efforts had failed to find the net.
The draw left United having won just six of their 16 home matches (37.5% win percentage), their worst winning percentage at home in a campaign since 1974.
Indeed, United drew 10 home matches last season, reaching double figures in Old Trafford stalemates for just the second time in their history.
They had over 100 shots in just five games (against Stoke, Burnley, Hull City, Bournemouth and West Brom) and netted just twice, with all five matches ending in draws.
Had they turned those draws into wins, they would’ve finished third, comfortably earning Champions League qualification without needing Europa League success.
If anyone ever needed a ‘flat-track bully’, it was Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. So when the sceptics handed the tag to Romelu Lukaku following the Belgium international’s £75 million arrival from Everton this summer, it would’ve come as music to the Portuguese's ears.
Lukaku faced largely unwarranted criticism for not ‘doing it against the big teams’ during his time at Everton. Indeed, only four of Lukaku’s 25 goals last term (and just 15 of his 85 Premier League goals overall) were scored against top-six sides.
But that won’t concern Mourinho, whose troubles last term were felt against the rest.
His side averaged almost 18 shots per game at home, but scored just 1.3 goals a game at Old Trafford and managed at least 10 goals fewer at home than the five clubs who finished above them.
They missed a league-high 50 'big chances' in their 10 home draws last season, with only Southampton and Stoke City having worse ‘big chance’ conversion rates than United's 34.21 per cent. Zlatan personally finished with a 'big chance' conversion rate of 28 per cent in the campaign overall.
Lukaku, meanwhile, failed with just seven 'big chances' in 2016-17, ending the best campaign of his career to date with a 'big chance' conversion rate of 72 per cent.
The 24-year-old is also considerably more mobile than Zlatan, who, for all his brilliance, at times slowed an attack Mourinho wanted to spring forward on the counter at pace.
“Romelu is a natural fit for Manchester United,” insists Mourinho. Now the pressure is on Lukaku to prove it.
The Sure Pressure Index
No one has ever been able to measure Premier League pressure... Until now!
Posted by Goal.com on Monday, August 7, 2017