MANCHESTER — Jose Mourinho has told his players they must all take responsibility for solving Manchester United’s goalscoring problem, while adding that a Premier League title was a more realistic target this season.
United were the lowest scorers of the Premier League’s top seven last season with just 54. Zlatan Ibrahimovic got 17 as part of 28 in all competitions before his campaign was ended early by a knee ligament injury.
The 35-year-old was the only United player to get into double figures in the league. The Swede has since been released but Mourinho splashed £75 million on Romelu Lukaku, who scored 25 Premier League goals for Everton last season.
However, the United boss insists it is not just down to the Belgian to pick up the slack this term, telling a news conference on Friday: “What I had in other clubs was more players scoring goals. What we had was midfielders, wingers, scoring, central defenders scoring goals at set pieces.
“We always had more goals from wingers, midfielders getting 10 goals, central defenders getting five goals and last season that didn’t happen much. We were focused on the striker scoring goals and when it didn’t happen we were in trouble.”
The lack of goals contributed to 10 league draws at Old Trafford that cost the club any chance of challenging Chelsea for the title. One of which was against West Ham, United’s opponents on Sunday as the new Premier League season gets underway.
Mourinho added: “The challenge is to win more matches than we did, by scoring more or conceding less, I don’t know.
“We lost only one match at home and in the cups we never lost, but too many draws.
“It would be better to lose two or three but win three or four more and then have six or eight more points and then a different position in the table.
“We had lots of dominance at home, lots of chances, lots when the match should be two or three nil and in the end was 1-1. But to have a better position in table we need to win more.”
Mourinho has an impressive record in his second seasons at clubs, winning the title in both spells at Chelsea, as well as at Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. United are one of the favourites to lift the trophy this time, despite finishing sixth and 24 points behind Chelsea last term.
Mourinho has added Lukaku, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic for a combined cost of £147 million but has lost Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney while Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young are long-term absentees through injury.
The Portuguese coach concedes his squad is “similar” to the one he took charge of last season. But he insists, despite that, the title is a more realistic target.
He said: “It’s not because I have always done it that I am going to do it.
“There is no relation between others or a guarantee because I always do, but I just think naturally a manger in the second season knows the club and players better.
“We are just in a position to do quality work better than in the first.
“It’s not just hope it’s convinced that the quality of the team will be better, I have conditions to deliver a better one than the first.”
Last season, Mourinho eventually had to prioritise the Europa League over the Premier League in a bid to secure Champions League football. Chelsea, without European football, were able to run away with the title, as Leicester managed to do the season before.
This season, however, each of the Premier League’s top seven will play in Europe, which Mourinho believes is a leveller.
The 54-year-old added: “I think everyone — the top seven — are all in Europe. Last season two were not.
“This time we are all in the same basket and it will be the same for everybody.
“Some, okay, have the luck to play Tuesday or Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday, but in the end the same number of matches. There is no advantage for anyone.