Juan Mata is in a positive spirit ahead of Manchester United’s 2018/19 campaign despite a tumultuous pre-season tour.
Jose Mourinho has cut a gloomy figure in the United States, where he arrived without ten first team players due to World Cup duties.
Eight of those went to the semi-final stage, meaning the Man United squad will have a skeleton-like feel for their opening Premier League clash against Leicester City on August 10.
But Mata, speaking after the 2-1 win over Real Madrid in Miami, has insisted the United squad is in positive spirits ahead of the campaign.
“I always feel positive,” he said. “Obviously we didn’t have a lot of our players but I think it was a good experience for the kids to train with the manager, to train with us and to learn what Manchester United represents.”
“We have had fantastic support from U.S. fans always and now we come back to Manchester ready. We have another game in Munich but [we are] already thinking about Leicester.”
Mourinho’s frustration is understandable. The lack of big signings after Fred has been a source of trepidation for himself and supporters, but the more immediate concern has been the folly of this pre-season tour.
How can you realistically plan for next season on a tactical level when players like Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Marouane Fellaini, Nemanja Matic, Marouane Fellaini and Phil Jones are all nowhere to be seen?
As a manager charged with preparing the team, this is a truly unnerving prospect. But every manager at the top level has this concern too. Mourinho’s task now must be to ensure the options he has at his disposal are ready to hit the ground running against Leicester City.