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Another disappointing afternoon at Old Trafford ended in another frustrating draw that leaves Manchester United adrift of their ambitions in the Premier League.
A slow start compounded by a prevalent theme of poor finishing left the Reds bemoaning more dropped points at the final whistle.
Jose Mourinho’s side aren’t playing badly, but performances need to be converted into points if the club are to have any ambitions; here are 5 things we learned from another home draw against the Hammers.
1) Clinical Instinct
Drawing one game where you have been dominant can be put down to luck, but four home Premier League games in a row have now passed where United have failed to take their chances.
The players have to take responsibility; in matches against Stoke, Burnley, Arsenal and yesterday against West Ham the Reds have had 91 shots on goal and converted just 3.
There are always fine margins in football and right now Mourinho’s men are on the wrong side of them. It’s not too far-fetched to suggest that with a clinical finisher delivering in the mould of the likes of Sanchez/Aguero/Costa for their respective clubs United would be right in the mix.
2) Ibrahimovic Struggling
He may be United’s top scorer this season and there is certainly a lot to be said for his link-up play but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is costing United where it really matters.
Once more against West Ham the Swede spurned a number of decent chances that his side simply need him to start converting.
The former PSG man also arguably restricts the way the Reds play, often coming very deep and offering very little threat in behind to stretch defences.
Unless the goals start flooding in Jose Mourinho should be bold and experiment with a more pacy/dynamic option. This may in turn get the best out of players like Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan whose creativity would undoubtedly benefit from the extra space created between the lines and a willing runner to target.
3) No Rhythm
Defensive injuries certainly haven’t helped but Jose Mourinho still doesn’t know his best side. Constant changes, particularly in the three positions behind the striker, have contributed to a lack of rhythm and fluidity.
Against the Hammers the loss of Michael Carrick through injury was an unwelcome blow to the balance of the side but the omission of Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan following promising displays in Europe was puzzling.
This is still a new manager and a new team and these things take time, but Jose Mourinho has had long enough to decide; it’s time to start delivering and finding some consistency.
4) Sleeping Starts
Slow starts to games have been a common theme this campaign and the stats show that Manchester United have not been good at coming from behind since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.
The never say die hallmark of the club never really feels like a realistic expectation anymore and, but for a strong response in the first half against West Ham, the waves of pressure never really seemed to materialise.
The Reds are creating chances, but the mentality needs to change. Jose Mourinho’s biggest job of all is to re-instill that intensity and winning mentality from the first whistle right until the last.
5) Out of Reach?
Manchester United now sit 11 points off the top of the Premier League and 8 points off the top four. With the teams above them all playing better, more consistent football the latest draw at home may just have put the club’s early ambitions out of reach.
It is still only November but it is hard to imagine that the recent dropped points at home against sides that should be brushed aside will not prove costly come May.
Some are pointing to January as an opportunity to bring a couple in to make a real difference but if current form continues that will be two months too late.
Manchester United aren’t playing bad football, but the players need to become clinical and consistent very quickly if this Premier League campaign is to be salvaged.