Manchester United’s players must give Zlatan Ibrahimovic more support if they are to make a serious challenge for Champions League qualification, manager Jose Mourinho said on Friday.
Ibrahimovic has scored 14 of United’s 33 Premier League goals this season and many of them have been decisive, earning United no fewer than 15 points.
No other player has scored more than four league goals and they were all off-target on Wednesday as relegation-threatened Hull City secured a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.
“In almost every team the striker is the top scorer,” Mourinho told a press conference at United’s training base west of Manchester prior to Sunday’s trip to Leicester City.
“Unless you have another player with a special feeling to score goals coming from another position, or you have another player scoring six, seven or eight goals from penalties. That is normal to happen.
“But I understand what you are saying. We attack so much and with so many players and so many players have the freedom in our dynamic to reach scoring positions.
“I have to agree with you that we don’t score enough goals and some of our players from these attacking, creative positions, they could –- they should –- score more goals.
“When you see the number of goals we score, there is not a true relation between our attacking production and the number of players we put in attacking positions and the number of goals we score.”
United are unbeaten in 14 league games as they prepare for the trip to the King Power Stadium, but have drawn seven of those, including each of the last three.
They have not shifted from sixth place since the start of November and currently lie four points off the Champions League qualification spots.
– ‘Waste of time’ –
Meanwhile, Mourinho has dismissed the idea of chasing what he calls “impossible” signings during the close season.
Reports in France claim United have agreed terms with Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann, having brought his France team-mate Paul Pogba to Old Trafford last year.
But Mourinho said: “I think to be speaking about the transfer window when it’s February 3 makes no sense at all.
“The transfer window opens in the summer and until the summer, I think I have nothing to tell you.
“Of course, I know what I want. I’ve worked with my players for seven months or so. I know them better now than six or seven months ago.
“I think what we need I am very realistic (about). I know what the impossible targets are.
“I don’t like my club to participate in impossible deals. It is a waste of time. It is a gift to these impossible players and to their agents to have a club like Manchester United interested in them.
“It just helps them to improve their situation, but it does not help us at all so I am very realistic. I am very objective.
“My board knows what I think our needs are and from now until the summer, I just focus on my players, our competitions, my club, our fans and try to get the (best) possible results.”
Centre-back Phil Jones is likely to miss the trip to Leicester with a bruised foot, but Eric Bailly is available after returning from Africa Cup of Nations duty with the Ivory Coast.
United have recalled back-up goalkeeper Dean Henderson from a loan spell at Grimsby Town to provide cover after Joel Pereira, the club’s third-choice keeper, picked up a knee injury.