It is effort on the training pitch rather than squad additions in the January transfer window that Jose Mourinho says is important for improving consistency.
A run of three league wins came to an end on Saturday when despite taking an early lead in a dominant first-half performance, a failure to make the most of opportunities and a late goal conceded allowed Stoke to run out 3-2 winners. The manager sees areas where the team has improved over the season, but he requires more goals to be scored.
‘There is no other way than working hard,’ Mourinho insists.
‘There is fantastic evolution in the three players who are playing behind the striker, all of them. They produce, they work amazingly well for the team, they create chances and they score goals.
‘There is a big evolution in this, that is why the team is playing so well, but we need more than that.
‘If we arrived at half-time at Stoke leading 3-0 or 4-0, everyone would say we played fantastically well the same way we did against Sunderland, but at Sunderland we let the opponent come into the game and we did this even worse against Stoke.
‘Playing well is not enough. We have to score more goals and we have to stop the individual mistakes at the back because mistakes cost us goals and points.’
Mourinho wants more goals from his strikers, believing that would have an impact on the league position, but adds: ‘My strikers they give everything and the team works hard. What can we do more? We keep working because the only way I know is to keep working.
‘I work with the players from day one to the last day. I try to improve the players and the style of the team. Of course we want the best possible results but I am not waiting for [new] players, I am not asking for players. This is a period of the club, this is a period of my team when we have to try to improve the players we have and try to build a future.’