Juan Mata has called on his Manchester United teammates to maintain the club’s superb home record this season against Newcastle United.
Jose Mourinho’s men have won all five of their home games in the Premier League so far this season, claiming 15 goals and conceding none in the process.
Supporters will be desperate to see both Paul Pogba and Marcos Rojo, who have been training with the reserves over the international break, return to the squad for the clash with Rafa Benitez’s side.
And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, made it clear that United will need to maintain a strong home record if they are to mount a meaningful title challenge this season.
“As from today we’re back to the training ground, with our minds on the game against Newcastle and also thinking about the importance of the next few months, which are full of games, especially during the Christmas season,” he wrote.
“When those moments arrive, having the team in good shape can be crucial ahead of the second part of the league.
“Going back to our game against Newcastle, which is scheduled for next Saturday, they’re much more than just a promoted team, as you know.
“It’s an important club with several Spaniards in it, such as Rafa Benitez, with whom I was lucky to work in the past; it will be nice to meet him again.
“We hope to have a good performance, get the three points and keep showing our strength at Old Trafford, same as we’ve been doing so far. It’s a key factor in order to maintain our position on the top side of the table.”
A few lacklustre performances can seemingly change the entire mood of a club, especially at the very highest level.
Man United are widely thought to be in decline under Mourinho, with uninspiring displays against Liverpool, Huddersfield Town and Chelsea coupled with Manchester City’s inexorable form throughout October leading many to conclude that the title race is already over, and that Mourinho has booked his ticket to Paris and started to learn French.
In short, the noise following defeat at Stamford Bridge has gone from excessive to absurd. The international break really can send some of us writers mental.
With that all in mind, Mourinho and his men will know that the perfect antidote is in their hands: a powerful display against Newcastle, with Lukaku returning to the scoresheet and players coming back, would no doubt inject a feeling of positivity back into the club at the same speed with which it went.