In many ways last night was a good one for Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: his side saw off West Ham United in normal time to reach the FA Cup fourth round and one of his star players made a goalscoring return.
But even if Wayne Rooney scored the winner on his comeback from injury, his failure to convert a penalty in the second-half is an undoubted concern for Ferguson as it fits into a wider pattern of United players missing spot-kicks this season.
United have a conversion successes rate of just 56 per cent from their nine penalties this campaign, with Robin van Persie, Javier Hernandez and Rooney all guilty culprits.
Rooney’s individual case is also worth highlighting. The 27-year-old has now missed five of his last nine penalties and two this season alone.
Overall, he has missed nine penalties from 30 attempts as a United player, giving him a below-average conversion rate of 70 per cent.
This has not escaped Ferguson and he has made it abundantly clear that he expects his side’s conversion rate to improve.
“It’s not one of those things. We have to improve at that,” he commented.
“There’s talk of the boy Rickie Lambert at Southampton, he’s scored 33 out of 33. That’s what penalty taking is all about. Your penalty kicks are to take advantage of whether it’s a handball or a foul and score a goal.”
Robin van Persie is likely to assume spot-kick responsibilities when United play Tottenham on Sunday although given the normally impeccable Dutchman has missed from 12 yards already this season, a goal is by no means guaranteed if the referee awards the Red Devils a penalty.
All of which makes our enhanced price of 16/1 (17.0) on United missing a penalty on Sunday a particularly enticing offer.