Juan Mata has explained what Manchester United must do next following their 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday.
The Spaniard, after over a month on the sidelines following a groin operation, was handed a place in the starting XI for the trip to the Emirates.
And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, has encouraged his teammates to focus all of their attention on Thursday’s second leg clash with Celta Vigo in the Europa League semi-final.
“Obviously, our game this weekend has had a disappointing result, but once again I prefer to take the positive side,” he said.
“On one hand, I was back on the pitch after several weeks out, and I felt good physically, which is something positive because the end of the season is going to be thrilling. I was back doing what I like the most, and I’m really excited about being able to help the team as much as I can in the final sprint.
“Another positive aspect of the game was the debut of both McTominay and Tuanzebe, a sign that the Academy is doing a good job; I’m really happy for them. I think the game was more or less even in the first half, with both teams creating chances, but they were lucky with the first goal soon after the break, and with the second one only a few minutes afterwards things turned quite complicated for us…
“As I said, we have to focus on the remaining fixtures, starting with Thursday’s important match: the Europa League semi-final second leg against Celta.
“Our options of entering the Champions League through the Premier League have decreased after this week, but we will keep on trying until the last game, first at Tottenham this coming weekend.
“As you know, the other way is by winning the Europa League, and we’re going to give everything we have for that goal. We need to play a very solid game against Celta; we have an advantage but I’m sure they will come here hoping to turn the tables and they will be a dangerous team.”
I don’t know about you, but there was a part of me that expected the kind of performance that Mourinho’s men produced on Sunday: fatigued, slightly disjointed, with every member of the squad clearly more interested in being 90 minutes away from a European final. The game had an air of superfluity – something compounded by a typically anodyne Emirates crowd and a peculiar, somewhat comical opening goal.
Mourinho has put his eggs in one basket and his players are clearly doing the same. Supporters will hope to see a reinvigorated, dominant display on Thursday night as United pursue European glory over domestic success over the next few weeks.