Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Bournemouth on Saturday seemed to confirm all the doubt we’d been having; United may struggle to finish in the top four this season. The result meant United remained in sixth and meant that United missed out on a golden opportunity to close the gap on the teams above. Jose Mourinho however, believes the top-four is still up for contention. The official Manchester United website reported;
“The reality is we are losing too many points at home. These matches at home against Hull, Burnley, Bournemouth, Stoke – it’s more of the same.
“We play well, we start well, we have one chance in the first minute and another in the third or fifth minute. But then their goalkeeper gets confident and he is eventually the Man of the Match.”
Something which I definitely agree on is the fact that nearly every opposition goalkeeper that comes to Old Trafford will have the game of their life. Guarantee next week, Arthur Boruc will concede at least three goals.
“Are we dead in relation to the top four? No. We are not dead – there are matches to play, points to win, points to lose, points to fight for – but the reality is we are losing too many points at home.
“If you look at the points we’ve lost at home – all the matches where we draw – if you accumulate these points, you’re thinking about 10 or 12 and, with these points we wouldn’t just be speaking about the top four – we’d be speaking about the top two or the top one.”
United don’t play another Premier League game until the 19 March against struggling side Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium. The next match for the Reds Devils is on Thursday night against Rostov in the Europa League. Of course, the winner of this competition secures Champions League football for the following season, so the question is, would this be the best avenue for United to take?
The reality of the league has already been acknowledged by Mourinho; we drop too many points at home. If United had beaten the likes of Burnley, Hull, and Stoke, then we would be comfortably in the top-four. The reason I ponder whether United should focus on gaining Champions League qualification through the Europa League is because we still have some huge games left to play. We’ve still got to play Arsenal and Manchester City away, Chelsea at home and Everton at home, just to name a few. At the moment, I just can’t see United getting too many points from those games. Maybe it’s Saturday’s result blinding me but I don’t feel confident about those games in the slightest. Perhaps if we manage to get past Rostov and the next round presents a ‘kind’ draw, we could build some momentum in that competition.
Of course, there will be chances to gain on the top-four but United have had a few really good opportunities already and haven’t taken advantage, so it wouldn’t surprise me if United bottled it again should another opportunity present itself. There are times when we have been unlucky but realistically, United should have been 3-0 or 4-0 up by half-time on Saturday.
All we can do as fans at the moment is stick by the team and keep believing that we can turn this around, however frustrating that may be.