Draw specialists United not good enough: Mourinho

United are the least prolific side among the top seven teams in the Premier League with just 43 goals in 29 matches - 10 fewer than Everton. It's not a problem of quality at all, it's a problem of luck.

"So let's see what side he puts out because I think it will be a strong side anyway".

"We have some players that are not really players in love with the goal".

The same could be said of Sunday's opponents who, like United, are indebted to a veteran striker acting virtually on his own for the goals that no one else seems able to provide.

"We lost because odd things happened during the match, so one defeat at home in all the competitions and what makes me think we are strong is the way opponents play against us because that is a big change".

The 35-year-old has scored eight goals in his last 10 games, along with three assists, and rescued an extremely late point against Everton last time out. The Black Cats are now 10 points adrift of safety and recent performances suggest the players know their situation is near irretrievable.

"Many goalkeepers have become phenomenal at Old Trafford, so I think you give credit for the goalkeeper".

"I wanted him to play a little bit more, so at 2-0, one hour in, with the crowd asking for everything and putting the referee under a little bit of pressure, no risk (taken)".

He said: "We keep fighting, we keep going". This is already one more than he gave out in the whole of last year's campaign.

"I know him very well. Maybe. But we believe in Marcus (Rashford), no doubt", he added.

"Manchester United were playing well but it was a decision that went against us".

United offered the 24-year-old England global a new deal to 2021 despite him only being a squad player, with just 12 Premier League appearances this season. The former Dortmund man has shown himself to be United's most creative outlet when on-form, but despite scoring some spectacular goals he has not fully adjusted to his new surroundings.

"First of all, if you don't pay, they go", he said.

"The club and the player tried to find a situation that makes everyone happy".

Part of the reason why Mourinho feels United are low on confidence is that young players such as Lingard, who has just been given a new contract, and Rashford and Martial, who both emerged so excitingly last season, are now having to play every week despite clearly suffering a form of second-season syndrome. Sunderland have not won at home since beating Watford in December and even at this price it is hard to fancy them.

In the past Premier League side have not prioritised the competition but with a top four finish starting to look unlikely for United, the Europa League could end up being their best chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

  • Julie Sanders