With Wayne Rooney’s record-breaking goal rightfully hogging headlines following Saturday’s draw against Stoke City, it’s easy to forget Manchester United failed to deliver.

The Red Devils dominated proceedings at the bet365 Stadium but, as has been the case a lot this season, poor finishing let them down.

Indeed, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co. struggled to beat goalkeeper Lee Grant having attempted 25 shots on goal, eight of which finding the target.

Following the game, Jose Mourinho explained how his side are no longer challenging for the Premier League title because they’ve drawn too many games.

“I set the target because I think you cannot do a different thing at Manchester United,” he said, per Manchester Evening News. “There is no reason to have an evolution if you do not set the target really high.

“For some reason in the last three seasons we don’t win the title. We are improving in many aspects.

“The next match we want to win and we want every match with that mentality. Obviously you do not win every time and we drew too many matches in the Premier League.

“Today we show why as the opponent score without creating one single chance and for us to score we have to create six or seven.”

United’s focus is now on securing a place in next season’s Champions League, though they have a mountain to climb to even achieve that.

They currently sit sixth in the table, three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal who can rise to second with victory over Burnley at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

However, there is far more at stake for the Red Devils than just pride in their pursuit of the top four.

According to The Sun, United’s players face pay cuts of up to 25% if they fail to secure Champions League football for next season.

Each player’s contract contains a clause that will reduce their weekly wage should they finish outside of the top four.

“The squad has reductions built in to protect from a drop in revenue,” a club insider said.

United as a club face massive deductions should they miss out on Europe’s elite competition, with Adidas prepared to slash their kit deal by 30% (£22.5 million) under such circumstances.

Clearly, United’s hierarchy are covering their own backs by inflicting wage cuts on their players.

 

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