The ‘us against them’ mantra has been a popular tool for the 53-year-old throughout his managerial career – most notably, perhaps, with Chelsea back in 2004.
Asked whether Mourinho has cultivated a siege mentality at Old Trafford, Mata said: “Yeah, we need to help each other. We need to be stronger and look stronger as a team.
“I think we’re doing that. We have good personalities in the dressing room here. We have players with experience and so many young players with the dream to play for this club.
“We try to cheer ourselves up. When a player doesn’t play and has less football, the other players have to help him, especially with the mentality, as we all know the qualities we have.
“Mentally, you can be higher or lower and it can affect your game a lot, so what we try to do is always be in a balanced situation so we can express ourselves in the best way.”
To fully understand the concept of siege mentality, one has to trawl back through history to the 1950 World Cup final.
Brazil, the host nation, had taken the competition by storm, beating Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1, setting up a final with Uruguay that, due to the tournament’s group-like structure, they only needed to draw.
Celebrations begun even before the game, with newspapers hailing an inevitable victory. for the hosts. And in turn, Uruguay’s captain, Obdulio Varela, bought several copies of O Mundo and told his teammates to urinate on them. Then, in front of 200,00 stunned Brazilians, Varela and Co secured an unthinkable victory. “It was us against the rest, and we won,” beamed Varela after the game.
If Mourinho, already under immense scrutiny from all corners of the football world (he is, after all, Mourinho), can generate a similar attitude, United would form into a very dangerous outfit.