Manchester — There used to be no team better than Manchester
United at scoring much-needed late goals.
Under Jose Mourinho, the opposite is happening.
In the last two months, United has drawn five of its seven
games in the Premier League. Three of those draws — against Stoke, Arsenal and
most recently Everton on Sunday — have come after conceding equalizers in the
82nd minute or later.
"This is what we are doing for a long time — playing
well, better than opponents," Mourinho said in comments that could easily
be on a loop in post-match news conferences. "Getting draws but deserving
The dropped points have left United in sixth place in the standings
after 14 games, 13 points behind first-place Chelsea and more crucially nine
points off the Champions League qualification positions. No team has dropped
more points from conceding goals in the last 10 minutes of matches this season
than United, which also lost 3-1 at Watford in September after letting in goals
in the 83rd minute and in injury time.
Mourinho has called United the "most unlucky team in
the Premier League." It's certainly the case that United has failed to win
games it has dominated, none more so than the 0-0 home draw against Burnley
when Mourinho's side had 37 attempts on goal.
Instead of "unlucky," Mourinho might chose to use
the words "least clinical." And the Portuguese coach might also need
to look at his own role in this.
Against Arsenal on Nov. 19, United was winning 1-0 and in
control of the match when Mourinho decided to replace playmaker Juan Mata, who
had scored the goal, with defensive midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin in the 85th
minute. Momentum quickly shifted and substitute Olivier Giroud powered in a
late header to earn Arsenal a 1-1 draw that even its coach, Arsene Wenger,
acknowledged was undeserved.
That was Arsenal's only attempt on target all match.
On Sunday against Everton, United again was leading 1-0
after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's 42nd-minute goal when Mourinho made another
defensive substitution in the 85th, bringing on Marouane Fellaini for Henrikh
Mkhitaryan. The aim, according to Mourinho, was for Fellaini to bring
protection in front of the defense with his height and strength as Everton went
direct in its search for an equalizer.
Also read: United victims of double standards, says Mourinho
But Fellaini's first meaningful contribution to the match
was to foul Idrissa Gueye with a clumsy challenge in the area. Leighton Baines
then equalized from the penalty spot.
Mourinho was irritable with the media afterward, angry at
journalists questioning his decision to bring on Fellaini and asking why United
continues to throw away points from dominant positions.
"It is a problem that our position in the table is not
a reflection of our performances," he said.
Mourinho said pundits have double standards when criticizing
his team, based on his past reputation of eking out victories.
"When my team are playing pragmatic football and
winning matches and winning titles, you say it is not right and nice,"
Mourinho said. "When my teams play very, very well, there is a huge change
in relation. Now you say what matters, no matter, is to get result."
United didn't play "very, very well" against
Everton but was still on course for a victory, only a third in the league since
Once again, the 20-time champions, who once pulled wins out
of nowhere, contrived to do the opposite.For
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