Parking the bus a recurring theme United can't resolve

Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing his 72nd-minute penalty as Manchester United dropped yet more points at Old Trafford.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing his 72nd-minute penalty as Manchester United dropped yet more points at Old Trafford.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Jose Mourinho fears Manchester United's bid to qualify for the Champions League will fail because of their inability to kill off inferior opponents at Old Trafford.

United had most of the possession and chances against struggling Bournemouth on Saturday, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic's penalty miss forced them to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Mourinho's side have dropped points at home against a number of sides below them in the table this season, with Stoke, Burnley and Hull all picking up draws when second best.

The United manager believes if his team had been more ruthless, they could even be challenging Chelsea for the title, but instead they are three points adrift of the top four.

"If you look at the points we lost at home, you are talking another 10 or 12," he said. "Then you are not just talking about top four, but top two or maybe even top one. There are matches to play, points to win and points to lose, but the reality is that we are losing too many points at home."

Saturday's match was dominated by three flashpoints just before half-time, first when Tyrone Mings escaped punishment for stamping on Ibrahimovic's head, then when the United striker elbowed the Bournemouth defender in the face.

Television replays showed Ibrahimovic connecting with Mings and he could now face a three-match ban, ruling him out of next Monday's FA Cup quarter-final at Chelsea.

Referee Kevin Friend did not penalise either player, but did then send off Bournemouth captain Andrew Surman for a second bookable offence as he pushed over Ibrahimovic in the aftermath of the elbow incident.

Friend then also sent Bournemouth assistant manager Jason Tindall to the stand for making his protests too forcefully at half-time.

That all came after Josh King's penalty had cancelled out Marcos Rojo's first league goal for United, and before Ibrahimovic's second-half spot-kick was saved by Artur Boruc.

Mourinho refused to criticise Friend or Mings, saying: "Zlatan is a big man, who has had too many years in football, like me. We are not the generation who goes to the media and complains.

"We are from that generation of street football and football for big guys. What happens, happens."

Tindall, who took on post-match media duties because Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was suffering from illness, said: "Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to see any of the decisions back again.

"The only thing I did see was the first yellow card for Surman, which I did think was very harsh.

"My players felt it was an elbow by Ibrahimovic. I am sure there was some kind of communication with the officials which ended up with Andrew being sent off."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2017, with the headline 'Parking the bus a recurring theme United can't resolve'. Print Edition | Subscribe