Manchester United Still Haven't Figured Out How to Score Goals Since Sir Alex Ferguson Retired
Jose Mourinho had a really interesting first year at Manchester United. The Red Devils placed sixth in the league, dropped far too many points at home to lesser sides and didn't look like true title contenders at any point in the season -- all of which is far below the standard at United.
On the other hand, Mourinho inherited a jumbled roster and found a way to get United back into the Champions League via winning the Europa League. All in all, this season should probably be deemed a success since they won two trophies (EFL Cup and Europa League) and got back into Europe's top competition.
But the Red Devils want to be challenging for Champions League titles -- not barely qualifying for it -- and they've shown they're willing to open up the purse strings to get there, breaking the world record transfer fee last summer for Paul Pogba.
They'll have to toss more big-time dough around this summer as the squad still needs an influx of talent, especially in attack. Despite the two trophies, United turned in another lackluster campaign in the goal-scoring department, something they've struggled with over the past four seasons.
All That Glistens Is not Goals
United are desperately lacking pace and width, which led to a lack of space in midfield and a plethora of low-scoring, hard-to-watch matches. Mourinho got results, losing just five times in the Premier League, but entertaining displays were few and far between. His side was missing the attacking firepower to bury opponents, evidenced by their league-high 15 draws.
The Red Devils netted a meager 54 goals in 38 Premier League matches, scoring one less than minnow Bournemouth. United's attack wasn't in the same stratosphere as those from England's other big clubs.
This isn't a new thing for the Red Devils. Under Louis van Gaal a year ago, United tallied a lowly 49 goals, 1 more than Sunderland, a club which narrowly escaped relegation that season (and did drop down this year).
It wasn't always this way, though. With the likes of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham in the side, United used to play an easy-on-the-eyes brand of soccer. Those Red Devils thrived on possession, creativity and flair, but United have become stale of late.
Still Missing Sir Alex
Just how far are United from their heydey under manager Sir Alex Ferguson? About as far away as the karaoke singer at your local watering hole is from a world tour.
You may know the year off the top of your head, but if not, see if you can spot when the legendary Sir Alex left the club.
It's night and day. Ferguson retired after United won the league in 2012-13, which just so happens to be their last Premier League crown. The drop in goals -- and overall success -- since he left is staggering.
In his final four years on the touch line, United averaged 84.5 Premier League goals per year while finishing first or second every campaign, including two league titles. In the four years since Ferguson left the club, the Red Devils have struggled their way to 57.25 goals per Premier League season and failed to finish inside the top three in any year (with a high-water mark of fourth).
Focusing on just goals, that's a difference of 27.25 goals per season, and the recent goal drought has come in an era in which scoring is surging for the top clubs as the gap between England's big-six and everyone else continues to widen.
Bringing in Reinforcements
Young phenom Marcus Rashford has shown himself to be capable of leading the line with his pace and attacking mentality, but United doesn't have much else up front.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was superb in his first year in Manchester, but he turns 36 this fall and is coming off a torn ACL. There's no guarantee he's back at United next season. Anthony Martial, a young and pacey winger, didn't get much run in Mourinho's first campaign, seeing a mere 11 starts and 18 total appearances in the Premier League this season, while forward Jesse Lingard may be best suited as a substitute.
That's a drawn out way of saying the fix to their goal-scoring woes isn't on the current roster.
As usual, this June and July should be a spending frenzy for England's top clubs, all of which have pockets overflowing with money and needs on which to spend. United's brass, as they showed with the move for Pogba, can splash cash as well as anyone, so expect Mourinho to chase after proven goal scorers this summer.
The Red Devils' interest in Atletico Madrid star striker Antoine Griezmann is no secret, but Griezmann alone likely won't be enough to get United back to contending for Premier League and Champions League hardware. Adding threatening wingers (which could mean shifting Rashford out to one side if they land Griezmann) who are willing to take on defenders may give the team the width they need so the creative players they do have -- namely Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan -- can thrive in the middle of the pitch.
Time will tell what United and Mourinho do, but they'll surely be active this summer. Their lack of goals show they need to be.