Thursday 29 September 2016

Juan Mata calls for reaction from Manchester United

Published 19/09/2016 | 10:41

Juan Mata (centre) came off the bench in Sunday's Premier League defeat at Watford
Juan Mata (centre) came off the bench in Sunday's Premier League defeat at Watford

Juan Mata has called for Manchester United to "show pride" and react to their run of three straight defeats with wins in league and cup this week.

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Jose Mourinho's side crashed to a 3-1 loss at Watford on Sunday, having been beaten at home by local rivals Manchester City the previous weekend and slipped to a Europa League defeat at Feyenoord on Thursday night.

Now Mata is calling for a response, firstly in the EFL Cup against Northampton on Wednesday and then at home to Premier League champions Leicester three days later.

"As I always say, one of the best things of football is that the game is testing you all the time," Mata wrote in his weekly blog.

"A win doesn't last too long, and it happens the same way with a defeat: you have the chance to make it up soon afterwards. Two more games this week will give us the opportunity to show on the pitch our pride and skills. There's no time for mourning. We must react.

"First of all, we visit Northampton Town in the EFL Cup, in our first game of the season in this competition.

"We are the favourites in this game and we have to deliver, all due respect to the opponent because, despite being in League One, Northampton Town has already knocked out a Premier League side like West Brom.

"I'm sure the stadium will be packed and they will try to make things difficult for us.

"Next weekend we are back to Premier League, this time in Old Trafford against Leicester. Playing a nice game against the current champions would be the best signal that we could send to our supporters.

"In order to do so, we have to improve and work hard in every sense. I believe this team is capable of doing great things this season. That's how I feel.

"There's plenty of time ahead to give our best, enjoy it on the pitch and make the fans enjoy it too. It's normal to feel disappointed right now, but there's still a long way to go."

While Mata wants a reaction, midfielder Marouane Fellaini admitted "heads are down" at Old Trafford following recent events.

Watford were good value for their win, with Etienne Capoue giving them the lead with his fourth goal of the season before Marcus Rashford equalised in the 62nd minute with United's first shot on target.

But, despite then getting on top, a goal from substitute Camilo Zuniga and a late Troy Deeney penalty saw United deservedly beaten - the first time in over a decade that Mourinho has lost three successive games as a manager.

A tricky test against the title-holders will be a difficult test for a team low on morale and Fellaini admits the team must fight together to alter the atmosphere around the club.

"Yes, it (the mood) is low, but we are men and we must stand up together and show ourselves," the Belgium international told MUTV.

"To lose was a tough moment but we must be ready to go again on Wednesday. We need to focus. At the moment heads are down but, as I said, we must stand together and fight and show that we are confident."

And Fellaini knows United have to string an impressive 90 minutes together rather than dropping off the pace throughout matches.

"At half-time, the manager told us to come out and play with confidence and we did that by grabbing the goal," he added.

"We played with tempo and we need to start doing that from the first minute.

"In the second half, we were much better. We kept the ball, created chances and played forward. We got back into the game at 1-1 but then we gave away the second goal by giving them too much space and not pressing the ball."

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