Juan Mata has insisted that Manchester United’s chances of winning the Premier League are now over, only a week after saying that we were still in the hunt for the title.
Soon after joining the club, Mata insisted that United’s never give up attitude was one of its defining characteristics which is why we could not be ruled out of the title race just yet.
“I think if another club would be in this position in the league, it would be very, very difficult for them to come back and take the first position in the league,” Mata said.
“I think this club can do it. It can always can do it because this club is used to fighting to the end with character. This is the real image I have of Manchester United, always fighting to win titles, always trying to win every title and always coming back from difficult moments.”
However, after the 2-1 loss against Stoke at the weekend, Mata has accepted that this season is about securing a Champions League spot and not about winning the Premier League.
“It is a difficult question but it will be between Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City,” he told Cadena Ser.
“Unfortunately we are too far away. Other seasons Manchester United used to fight for the titles but this year we are going to fight to get a place in the next Champions League.
“Obviously Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City are the favourites to win, they have been the most consistent during the first part of the season.
“Chelsea’s latest victory against Manchester City has been very important, because winning at the Etihad is a boost but we will see what happens at the end.”
Mata’s U-turn has been mirrored in the fans’ attitude to this season because the title was always a long shot even before the loss to Stoke which has made it nigh on impossible to overtake City, Chelsea and Arsenal. Our focus and prerogative is now securing Champions League football.
United have never finished outside of the top three before in the Premier League so this is all very new territory but what the team has to do now is dig our heels and secure that top four spot. Without it, who knows how United will shape up next season.
Despite being out of the title race, Mata has insisted he is happy he made the move and pleased with how he has been welcomed at United.
He added: “I am very happy. I have had a really good welcome from my new teammates and the supporters.
“Giggs, who is a legend, Rooney, Van Persie… all are very kind and since the very beginning they have helped me to make me comfortable.”
“I am happy because every player wants to play. I was not playing as much as I wanted at Chelsea and since I arrived in Manchester I have played the two games. That’s made me happy”.