Red Devils must take away form home
Published 06/04/2014 | 14:37
Juan Mata has challenged Manchester United to reproduce their away form at Old Trafford to fuel a rousing finish to a difficult season.
United surged to their 10th Barclays Premier League away win of the campaign when they trounced Newcastle 4-0 at St James' Park on Saturday despite making eight changes to the team which started against Bayern Munich in midweek.
That is one more win on the road than Arsenal and Tottenham and two more than title contenders Liverpool and Manchester City have managed, but more significantly, three more than United themselves have claimed on home turf.
Mata told MUTV: "When we look at that record, we think we should have done better at home and at Old Trafford.
"But I think it is something to be proud of, to be the best team away from home in the league. Let's try to win at home, win as many games as we can until the end of the season and go higher in the table."
Few of United's victories can have been as routine as this one, although it took them 39 minutes and a debatable refereeing decision to get their noses in front on Tyneside.
However, once Kevin Friend had awarded a free-kick for Dan Gosling's challenge on Darren Fletcher, Mata took over to curl a fine free-kick over the wall and into goalkeeper Rob Elliot's top left corner.
The midfielder made his way to the sideline to celebrate with rested goalkeeper David de Gea, and later explained why he had gone to his compatriot.
Mata said: "David was pretty happy for me and he had told me that I was going to score before the game. That is why I went to him."
The Spaniard, a £37.1million January signing from Chelsea, doubled his tally with a cool finish from Javier Hernandez's pass five minutes after the restart and Newcastle, who had enjoyed a fair share of the game until that point, simply folded.
Hernandez himself added a third from close range with 65 minutes gone and substitute Adnan Januzaj wrapped up the win at the death from Mata's astute back-heel.
Mata was full of praise for Hernandez, Shinji Kagawa and Januzaj and the way they put the Magpies to the sword.
He said: "We produced a great performance, scored four goals and played some great football, especially in the second half.
"This is a happy day for us. We played very well. For me, it is a pleasure to play with players like Chicha [Hernandez], Shinji and Adnan.
"They are quality players, so it is easy to play alongside them. Today, we did it on the pitch and we created some chances to score.
"I am very happy for Chicha as well - I think he deserved his goal - and for Adnan after coming off the bench."
The only down-side for United boss David Moyes, who is awaiting news of Wayne Rooney's toe injury ahead of Wednesday's trip to Munich, was an injury to midfielder Ashley Young, who suffered suspected ligament damage to his hand in a first-half fall.
Opposite number Alan Pardew was in sombre mood as he reflected on a seventh defeat in 10 league games and a fifth home game this season in which his depleted side has conceded three or more goals.
Pardew said: "We know as a team that we can defend well, but we need more threat and sometimes when you have got no threat, the opposition get more confident and they keep coming on like Southampton, and this was the same.
"At the end, Manchester United were coming forward and looking for goals and we weren't offering enough threat, and we have got to change that.
"Having said that, we have played three good teams in the last three and we know we are a little distance away with the injuries we have got in terms of quality.
"Manchester United can lose five players and it doesn't really affect them too much; it does us.
"But we have to make sure we go to Stoke with a team that's focussed and try to win the game."