- Premier League
Mata insists United storm will pass
Juan Mata insists Manchester United will overcome their current struggles but felt the need for a colourful approach to try to convince supporters.
United were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday, with David Moyes' seventh-placed side as good as dead and buried in their fight for a top four finish.
From one shambles to another
- Liverpool's comprehensive 3-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday was the latest in a long list of humiliations for Manchester United this season.
- As under-fire manager David Moyes searches desperately for a solution to United's growing problems, these are the blows which have left his club reeling:
- Liverpool 1-0 Manchester United, Premier League, September 1, 2013. Moyes said: "Apart from the lapse in concentration for their goal, we played well."
- Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United, Premier League, September 22, 2013. Moyes said:"I just told the players the way I would have told them at any other club if I didn't think they were doing well. They're good players, they're good pros, they know when they're bang at it and when they're not."
- Manchester United 1-2 West Brom, Premier League, September 28, 2013. Moyes said: "You're always going to have bad results in football, it is how you deal with them. We will move on and look forward to the next one."
- Manchester United 0-1 Everton, Premier League, December 4, 2013. Moyes said: "I am disappointed to lose, that's the way the game goes sometimes."
- Manchester United 0-1 Newcastle, Premier League, September 7, 2013. Moyes said: "I stand firm that we will be very close to [the title], and will be in and around at the end of the season."
- Manchester United 1-2 Swansea, FA Cup third round, January 5, 2014. Moyes said: "When you lose games at any club, it's difficult."
- Sunderland 2-1 Manchester United, League Cup, January 7, 2014. Moyes on Sunderland's penalty: "It looks as if we're having to play them [the officials] as well as the opposition at the moment. It's really terrible, it really is, we're actually beginning to laugh at them."
- Olympiakos 2-0 Manchester United, Champions League last 16, first leg, February 25, 2014. Moyes said: "I take responsibility, it's my team and I'll always front it up. It was the worst we've played in Europe."
They are now twelve points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, who have two games in hand on them, while Liverpool stretched their advantage over United to 14 points as they moved up to second on goal difference above Arsenal.
However, Mata believes that United's woes will make him a better footballer - and appears to have taken a minor hint of inspiration from the Eric Cantona school of public persuasion.
Former United star Cantona once quipped "when the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea" at a 1995 press conference. He made his cryptic statement after an appeal hearing at Croydon Magistrates' Court following his infamous kung-fu kick on Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons.
Mata was much more to the point but still broke from the more familiar players' platitudes. "The storm will pass and the sun will rise again," Mata wrote in his weekly blog for United's official website. "I have no doubt.
"Besides, no one said this would be easy, but this is football. It gives you fantastic moments but also very hard times you have to cope with, when you have to show pride and professionalism until the end.
"When all this is gone I'm sure I will be a more mature footballer."
Mata also thanked United's fans for their continued support despite the team's disappointing campaign. He even admitted he felt so low after Sunday's match that he considered not writing his blog entry this week. Team-mate Wayne Rooney went further, admitting the result was his worst nightmare.
"There are no words to describe your support in the stadium," Mata said. "In games like yesterday it makes me mad not being able to give you what you deserve. I know there is nothing I can say right now, but at least I want you to know how I feel.
"I'll be very honest: on a day like this it's not easy to write. I even thought it would be better to keep quiet and not to write, for I know many fans are really upset now, and so are we."
Mata has struggled to make an impact since United signed him from Chelsea for a club-record £37.1 million in January but he has hinted that it is because he is being played out of position.
"Right now I am playing on the right but to honest I don't see myself as a proper winger," he told BT Sport earlier this month.
"I love to play between the lines as a No.10, come inside, that is where I feel comfortable to play; to keep in touch with the ball because I love to play in possession and with the ball."
The No.10 role is currently occupied at United by Rooney, with Mata having been largely employed out wide.
Mata thrived in the playmaker position last season at Chelsea, earning his second consecutive player of the year award at the club after moving to Stamford Bridge in 2011.
However, Jose Mourinho preferred Oscar behind the striker and Mata became a peripheral figure before being allowed to leave.