Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has revealed his thoughts on the competition at the club and his position in the team going forward.
However, the Spaniard made a minimal impact on the game and he squandered a good opportunity to equalise in the later stages of the match.
Mata talked about his role in the starting XI and how he fits in under van Gaal.
When asked about competition for places, Mata said: “It is tough but I think every player needs that competition to grow as a player. You must not fall asleep and take your position for granted. The competition helps us a lot.
When asked if it helps to play in the same position for an extended period, Mata said: “It helps. You get more used to the players, you get more used to the movement of your team-mates, but I also think it’s good for me and any player to be able to play in different positions, not just on the right or left or as a no.10. I have played in those positions a lot in my career but I think I can play in every position offensively in the team and I think that’s good for me to grow as a player.
And on his role on the right hand side, Mata added: “I’ve really enjoyed it. Obviously I am not a winger, if you imagine an old-school winger who is trying to play one-against-one and to cross the ball. I try to find my spaces from the right and cut inside and in behind, and try to assist my team-mates.
“I really enjoy it there. I think it’s very important for us to create little triangles on the wings with myself and Matteo [Darmian] and then with the midfield. That’s what the manager wants and we can play inside and outside. It’s good for us to be able to create chances for the striker.”
A number of fans had been calling for Mata to play at No.10 prior to the PSV game but his performance in the fixture may have changed their mind. He doesn’t quite have the pace to really beat a man on the right hand side, which sometimes hinders United when it comes to counter-attacking. Nevertheless, he is still scoring and assisting goals so his place won’t be under threat anytime soon.