Juan Mata has expressed his dismay after Manchester United suffered a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon.
Jose Mourinho’s men created a litany of chances, with Anthony Martial missing a one-on-one with Martin Dubravka and Alexis Sanchez failing to take advantage of an open goal, before they were made to pay for their sloppiness by Matt Ritchie’s 65th minute goal.
Martial and Michael Carrick both went painfully close to claiming a late equaliser but Newcastle stood firm to register their first win at home since October.
And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, adopted a notably disappointed tone when reflecting on the defeat to Rafa Benitez’s side.
“Unfortunately this is one of those days when you don’t feel in the best mood to update your blog, neither do you to read it,” he wrote.
“It’s not easy to write after a defeat. The truth is, after losing an away game you think a lot about it on your way back home. You remember every play, every moment, and you try to change the outcome but obviously that’s impossible.
“You can’t turn back time, so the only way to carry on is to turn all this rage into a desire to win, work and attitude for the next game.
“The 1-0 in Newcastle hurts because we had chances to score both in the first and in the second half, but they took better advantage of their weapons.
“We already have to focus on the FA Cup and Huddersfield. It will be a great opportunity to prove that a new win can help to forget yesterday’s game. By the way, thank you to those who travelled to Newcastle, you deserved a different game and a different score.”
This was a not a performance from the same cut of cloth as woeful displays away to Huddersfield Town or Tottenham Hotspur, and perhaps on another day United would have found the opening goal which has so often served as a platform for solid wins this season.
But the cold reality is that United, with 27 games of the season gone, still don’t have a known best starting XI, or even a formation that Mourinho and his staff have agreed upon.
And yet, somehow, they have remained second throughout most of the campaign – a sign of the natural talent and winning nous in the side as well as the fallibility of teams like Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Liverpool.
In other words, the margin for improvement – greater execution, greater tenacity, greater diversity of options – is massive, and ought to serve as a positive challenge for next season.