Paul Pogba has called on Manchester United to “wake up” after a third straight draw over the Christmas period saw them slip behind Chelsea in the Premier League table.
Draws against Leicester and Burnley either side of Christmas severely undermined United’s status as challengers to Manchester City and Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate at home to Southampton means they are now third in the standings, 14 points adrift of City.
The problems are mounting for manager Jose Mourinho, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s knee problem keeping him out for a month and Romelu Lukaku taken off on a stretcher after a nasty clash of heads with Wesley Hoedt.
United may also be expecting contact from the Football Association after footage emerged of Ashley Young apparently elbowing Dusan Tadic in the stomach.
Everton await on New Year’s Day and Pogba has demanded better from his side, despite the short turnaround.
“We didn’t lose but we have to wake up, bounce back and get back to winning,” the Frenchman told MUTV, United’s in-house TV channel.
“We drew again. Three draws we have to win, something has to change and we have to change to win.
“It’s only one day and then we have to play against Everton — that’s football. Tomorrow’s another day and we have to go out there and win.”
On the mid-match injury to top-scorer Lukaku, Pogba said: “When we have Romelu, he makes it difficult for defenders and creates so much space as well. He’s a big miss for us but we have the team to fill the gap of Romelu.”
Medical staff took every precaution in treating a potentially concerning head injury, placing the Belgian on a stretcher and fitting an oxygen mask.
By full-time Mourinho was confident the worst-case scenarios had been ruled out and was instead predicting a two-match lay-off for the forward.
As for Young, who has been one of United’s most consistent performers this season, the possibility of a three-match ban lingers.
That is the tariff handed to Burnley defender James Tarkowski earlier this month after he admitted a charge of violent conduct for elbowing Brighton striker Glenn Murray.