Jose Mourinho’s team drew their 14th game of the season against Anderlecht
MANCHESTER UNITED desperately need to find their killer touch.
The 1-1 scoreline at Anderlecht on Thursday night was incredibly their 14th draw this season.
Once again they had dominated but failed to come away with a win. It is a long way from the days of Sir Alex Ferguson when the Red Devils would have teams on the ropes and ruthlessly finish them off.
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No more, and it is frustrating Michael Carrick, a key player in those trophy-laden days under Fergie.
Carrick said: “The draws are killing us. In some ways you are better off losing one and winning one than doing what we have been doing having drawn so many.”
That contradicts Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who recently insisted he would prefer to draw 10 matches than win five and lose five — even though the latter would produce five more points.
But Carrick added: “We have got to be ruthless and have to finish games off. We have to find a way.”
Carrick, 35, is right, United are not that far away. An unbeaten run of 21 games in the Premier League tells you that.
He added: “Going on a run like we have shows we have a bit of steel and have a bit of character about us.
“There are positives but at the moment it is not quite enough.”
Indeed, there is still something missing.
Something Mourinho will have to find from within, or more likely in the transfer market this summer with someone who can help out in the goals department.
A draw away from home in Europe as United earned in Brussels in their Europa League quarter-final first leg should be something to celebrate.
But Carrick said: “It is not the end of the world but we’ve set ourselves standards and to come away 1-1 when we should have won is frustrating.”
Having led from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal United were coasting to victory until they conceded with four minutes to go.
There will certainly be no room for error when they take on table-toppers Chelsea.
If chances are presented against Antonio Conte’s men they will need to be taken not spurned like Paul Pogba’s late effort shortly before Anderlecht’s equaliser.
Twice United have been beaten at the hands of the Blues this season.
The 4-0 mauling at Stamford Bridge in October was United’s last league defeat. But they also lost the FA Cup quarter-final there.
Sunday will serve as a barometer for many United fans to see just how far away they are from regaining their status as England’s best.
Right now nobody can really make their mind up as to whether giant strides have been taken since the Louis van Gaal era or the club have stood still.
The football is certainly better to watch and ultimate triumph in the Europa League will give the club a cup double after their EFL triumph over Southampton.
But it is the league where you are really judged. The 18 points between themselves and Chelsea is certainly a concern.
But it is just another game according to their former Blues boss Mourinho.
He said: “You say that word ‘emotion’. For me, it is just a game. One more game. No difference for me, not at all.”
Really? You can bet Mourinho will want to put a dent in Conte’s title aspirations particularly if Spurs get a win against Bournemouth today to cut the gap.
But Mourinho admits that Chelsea deserve praise even if they will not be billed as the new entertainers. He isn’t exactly gushing. “Strong” is about as far as he will go.
They are strong enough to have beaten United twice. We will see tomorrow if the Red Devils can finally find a ruthless streak and wreak revenge.