Manchester United need to regain killer instinct, say Giggs and Neville
SINGAPORE - Dominating games but failing to win has been a familiar story for Manchester United this season.
Jose Mourinho’s men are currently on a 20-game unbeaten run in the English Premier League, but have won only half of those matches.
A large part of that has been down to a chronic inability to put away their chances, which has seen them net a paltry 43 times from 29 games. They have the worst conversion rate in the league and the lack of goals mean United sit in sixth with eight games left, out of the coveted top four positions.
Former star duo Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, who were part of a United era that were associated with plenty of goals under former manager Alex Ferguson, feel that it is a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
“It’s been the biggest problem they’ve had all season, drawing too many matches and not killing teams off with the amount of opportunities they’ve had,” Neville told assembled media on Saturday (April 8) on the sidelines of Café Football’s Singapore launch.
“I am sure Jose Mourinho will know how to fix it in the summer, because he needs to; ultimately it’s not enough, you cannot keep dropping points at home, it’s frustrating.”
Giggs noted that the goalscoring burden cannot fall solely on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has 27 goals in all competitions - Juan Mata is the only other player to reach double figures. As United’s attack continues to misfire, other departments in the team have not stepped up as well, the Welshman added.
“There’s not a lot wrong (with the team), the performances are good and defensively we look strong,” he said. “It’s just that concentration in (front of) goal and just that over-reliance, really, on Ibrahimovic.
“He’s the centre-forward, but you need goals to come from everywhere, be it the wide men, midfielders, or even the defenders chipping in at set-pieces.”
LINGARD DESERVES NEW DEAL
The pair also defended Mourinho’s decision to hand winger Jesse Lingard a new four-year contract on Thursday, with the reported £80,000-a-week deal (S$139,000) criticised by many fans as too excessive for a squad player.
Neville pointed out that supporters should not be blaming Lingard, who came through the academy ranks, and that players like him were essential in previous winning United teams.
“Criticism of him is unjustified, he’s done well and scored in two cup finals for United,” the 42-year-old said. “The manager decides whether he gets the contract...the fact that he’s been at the club since the age of seven is an incredible achievement.
“He’s done a very good job for Jose Mourinho, for United, gives his all in every single game; he loves the club, so I think that ultimately it’s a deserved contract.
“I think maybe the fans’ frustration sometimes is (borne from) the fact that they want to see a (Cristiano) Ronaldo or a Giggs all the time… You always need players like Jesse to support those types of players - and over the years Manchester United have had plenty of those, like a Park (Ji-sung) type... they balance off the talented players, do the (hard) work and fill in gaps.”
Giggs hopes that the stability of a new contract will give Lingard the platform to achieve even more and become a regular for both club and country.
“He’s perhaps one of the players who needs to score more goals; as an attacking player you need to be heading for double figures and also 10, 12, 15 assists,” he added.
“Jesse’s that type of player who can do that, now he needs to… concentrate on his football and make sure he puts the regular, consistent performances in.”
AIMING FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS
The appearance of the United legends caused a commotion at Café Football, a business venture between them and property firm Rowsley. The Singapore branch is their first outside of the United Kingdom, with an outlet each in London and Manchester.
Plans for the football-themed café, located at The Arena at Woodleigh Park, were announced last October and Giggs, who said the pair are very “hands on” in the business’s management, is confident of replicating the success in Singapore.
“I think all you can do is prepare right, try and get the service and the quality of the food right, which is what we want to have consistent right through the branches,” he said.
“It’s a great spot (here). We were here seven to eight months ago and the transformation has been brilliant in that short space of time, so yeah, we are confident that we’ve got the right people and it will be a success.”
Neville added that they hope to also bring Hotel Football - the flagship hotel in their football-themed hospitality franchises - to Singapore “one day”.
The pair also showed they hadn’t lost their touch on the field, as they each captained seven-a-side teams for a friendly match, which saw Giggs’ side win 9-6 in a thrilling contest.