Saturday 21 January 2017

Mata has 'professional relationship' with Mourinho

James Ducker

Published 01/11/2016 | 02:30

Mata knows what it is like to be ousted by Mourinho, who sold him to United when in charge of Chelsea. Photo credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
Mata knows what it is like to be ousted by Mourinho, who sold him to United when in charge of Chelsea. Photo credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

Juan Mata was understandably supportive of Bastian Schweinsteiger after his Manchester United team-mate finally returned to first-team training yesterday, ending a two-month exile imposed by manager Jose Mourinho.

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Mata, of course, knows what it is like to be sidelined by Mourinho, who sold him to United when in charge of Chelsea, but the Spain midfielder is adamant he had harboured no fears of history repeating itself when the Portuguese took over at Old Trafford in the summer.

Speaking in detail for the first time about his relationship with Mourinho since the pair were reunited in Manchester, Mata admitted that he had been inundated with calls from concerned friends and family who were hearing he could be axed.

But the player said he never shared their anxieties and is convinced he is as important a member of the squad now as ever, despite the continued on-pitch turbulence that has left United seven points adrift of fourth place with a quarter of the season gone.

"The manager didn't sit down with me, no," Mata said ahead of United's Europa League tie at Fenerbahce on Thursday.

"I do feel an important part of this team. Since I came to Manchester United, we had ups and downs. I always felt an important player under any manager and I feel important now.

"It is difficult to control everything that goes out and your friends and family are ringing to know what is going on, but I always told them the same thing, 'I am the one that knows what is going on, and I know that nothing is going on'.

"It is a professional relationship (I have with Mourinho). That is it.

Mata has started six of United's 10 Premier League games and 10 of their 15 in all competitions this season and has usurped Wayne Rooney as Mourinho's preferred No 10.

Mata knows that the team has little margin for error after taking just six points from the past 21 available.

"It is difficult to start a new era after the time Sir Alex (Ferguson) was here but I tell them (the fans) that this club sooner or later will be fighting for trophies again, and hopefully this season."

Schweinsteiger is unlikely to have any influence on that front, though.

Mourinho's decision to give the Germany midfielder his peg back in the first-team dressing-room and allow him to train with the rest of the squad after two months with the reserves is believed to be down primarily to the club's desire to have the player in shape before an anticipated January move.

Until then, Schweinsteiger, who is not in United's Europa League squad, has no expectation of playing first-team football. (© Daily Telegraph, London.

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