Jose Mourinho ready to shift Man United's focus to Europe after West Brom draw

Manchester United 0 West Brom 0

Jose Mourinho ready to shift Man United's focus to Europe after West Brom draw

Saturday’s miserable stalemate leaves his side five points off a treasured Champions League spot for next season.

And with injuries stretching his squad to breaking point over a hectic April when United have nine games, Mourinho is ready to switch his focus, with Belgian side Anderlecht coming up in the Europa League quarter-final in 10 days’ time.

United have Everton at home on Tuesday night followed by a trip to rock- bottom Sunderland, two games which Mourinho believes will shape his side’s objectives.

“After Sunderland, the Europa League comes and then I don’t know. It’s possible you’ll see me play in the Premier League with a team where I am going to protect the players that I see as fundamental for the Europa League,” the Portuguese said.

“But only if the results in the next matches put us in a situation that mathematically where it becomes almost impossible to do it.”

With five of their six closest rivals to play in the Premier League, it’s easy to see why Mourinho might favour his chances in Europe where Roma, second in Serie A, or Celta Vigo, 11th in La Liga, look like the biggest obstacles to the prize of Champions League qualification.

United’s inability to score or kill off opponents was again exposed by a well-organised and determined West Brom.

United did deserve to win the game. Marcus Rashford brought two brilliant saves from Ben Foster, Henrikh Mkhitaryan wasted a glorious one-on-one opportunity while Marouane Fellaini blazed a simple chance wide from 10 yards out.

But the Red Devils have now dropped an astonishing 19 points from 15 games at Old Trafford and scored fewer goals at home than 13 other teams in the Premier League.

Top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic will at least return from suspension for Tuesday’s game with Everton while Paul Pogba could be back in another week.

But with them and Juan Mata missing after a groin operation, there are so few goals in the team. Of those who featured against the Baggies, only Mkhitaryan, Rashford and Anthony Martial have scored more than once in the Premier League this season - each with an underwhelming three goals.

Mourinho is unimpressed and criticised his forward line for missing chances that cost his side the three points.

“You see how many goals our guys score? Lingard, Rashford, Mkhitaryan, Martial, see how many goals they score? Zlatan and Mata are the ones with more goals,” he said.

“We are not consistent, we miss easy chances. We have moments when we push but then a couple of players disappear and there are 10 minutes when you don’t see them and you see always the same people, always the same guys in front of the train pulling the train.

“It’s not today, it’s every day. I keep doing what I’m doing during the season. I try, I give chances. ‘Play again, come on, keep going, you have talent’. We know they have talent, okay let’s go. Let’s have one more opportunity, no pressure, keep going - there is nothing else we can do.”

Despite a glut of injuries and suspensions, England defender Luke Shaw failed to make the 18-man match day squad despite being fit.

The 21-year-old’s time at Old Trafford looks to be coming to an end with Mourinho revealing he left him out because he feels he doesn’t have the desire needed to earn a place in his line-up.

“It’s difficult for him to be on the bench,” the United boss said. “I cannot compare him with Ashley Young, with Darmian, with Blind. I cannot compare the way he trains, the way he commits, the focus, the ambition - I cannot compare. He’s a long way behind.”

Shaw could do worse than look to the Hawthorns for his next move where Darren Fletcher and Jonny Evans have blossomed under Tony Pulis. Fletcher started his 83rd consecutive game for the Baggies after illness wrecked his final years at Old Trafford and he almost stole a win with a 20-yard strike that David de Gea fumbled onto the bar.

“If we won at the end, it would have been unjust,” Pulis admitted. “We are really pleased with the effort and commitment they put in today, United have some really good players.”

MAN UTD: De Gea 5, Valencia 6, Bailly 6, Rojo 6, Young 7, Fellaini 6, Carrick 6, Mkhitaryan 6 (Rooney 74, 5), Lingard 5, Martial 6, Rashford 6.

Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Fosuh-Mensah, Darmian, Tuanzebe, Willock.

WEST BROM: Foster 8, Dawson 7, McAuley 7, Evans 8, Nyom 6, Livermore 6, Fletcher 7, Brunt 6, Chadli 6 (Yacob 67, 7), McClean 6 (Morrison 57, 6), Robson-Kanu 6 (Rondon 70, 7).

Subs not used: Myhill, Wilson, Harper, Field.

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