Manchester United manager David Moyes has voiced concerned over his side's recent lack of goals in open play before their Champions League opener against Bayer Leverkusen.
Their goals in Saturday's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League came from a Robin van Persie penalty and a Wayne Rooney free kick, while before that they lost 1-0 at Liverpool and drew 0-0 with Chelsea.
“It’s a little bit of a concern as we played well, we’ve had a lot of attacking entries into the opposition half so it’s not for the want of trying,” Moyes said on the eve of their Group A match at home to German side Leverkusen.
“Sometimes it’s a good thing because you don’t want to use up all your goals all the time, you want to keep some of them and if we’re winning without having to score too readily then that’s great.”
As well as improving their attacking threat, United will also want to start rebuilding the reputation Old Trafford used to have as a fortress with the English champions having won only three of their last nine home fixtures in European competition.
“It’s something we would want to try and make better,” Moyes added. “(We will) try and put on a good show and improve on that record. The competition has become more open, it’s not quite as predictable as maybe people thought it was a few years ago.”
United's European campaign ended in huge disappointment last season when they went out 3-2 on aggregate to Real Madrid in the last 16 following a controversial red card for Nani in the second leg at Old Trafford that turned the game. Defender Rio Ferdinand said they were keen to put memories of that behind them.
“I don’t think we need the extra drive or the motivation, we were all disappointed with what happened last season and how we went out but it’s not something we’ll sit and harp on about,” he said. “We’ve got to dust that off and start afresh this season. New group, new season, new games. Last season is definitely out of our minds and not something we will need to use (to spur us on).”
The bigger source of motivation would seem to come from the fact that with the likes of Leverkusen, Real Sociedad and Shakhtar Donetsk, they have been drawn in a more difficult group than in other years.
“It probably focuses you a bit more, the whole squad, the club and the management as well,” Ferdinand said. “When it’s a tough group the chance to rest people doesn’t come about as much as when you’ve got teams where you think you probably could nick the points a lot easier.”
Tuesday’s match represents a first group-stage match for Moyes in the continent’s elite club competition having only made it as far as the third qualifying round with his previous side Everton in the 2005/06 season. The Scot played down this lack of experience, saying he had featured in the European Cup as a player and had watched many Champions League matches.
"(Leverkusen manager) Sami Hyypia is new to it as well," he said. "I've been around, I've been in Premier League a long time. I've always wanted to get to Champions League, I've done everything I can at Everton to make that happen. I've got another route into it with Manchester United and I'm going to do everything I can to possibly win it."