Manchester United on Monday jetted off for a five-day warm weather training camp and Red Devils midfielder Juan Mata has expressed delight at the breather that they have been afforded as he feels the jaunt will strengthen team morale.
“Today I’m writing to you after packing my bag for Dubai, where we will spend a few different days of training. We’re taking a short break after the intense Christmas period and it’s going to be good for the team,” Mata penned on his blog on Monday.
United, like the rest of the Premier League, have been involved in a hectic winter schedule, playing games non-stop and Mata was quick to remind everyone of the exact number of games they have played since the start of December.
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“We have played nine games in December and two more at the beginning of 2018, and now we have a whole week with no fixtures on schedule, just until next Monday.”
“It’s kind of weird, after a long time with games every three or four days,” Mata admitted as he continued, “and it comes in good timing for the whole team to spend time together and work in that area of the world with such a good climate, especially in a month like January”.
While the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City are playing mid-week due to their EFL Cup semi-final ties, United (who were knocked out by Bristol City in the quarters) had over a week’s breather with their next game scheduled for Monday, January 15.
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“This five-day training camp is going to be very positive for us to recharge the batteries, in order to get ready for the five thrilling months of the competition that lie ahead. Besides, I think spending time with the team-mates apart from the usual daily training can be very good.
We will have time to train, chat… To strengthen the group. It’s like a break in the routine of the day-to-day activity and that is always positive. I hope we come back full of energy for the game against Stoke at Old Trafford.”
United were in a bit of a rut towards the end of 2017 as they failed to win their final four games of the year, with the aforementioned loss to Bristol City, in particular, sparking fears of a mid-season collapse.
The Red Devils, however, began 2018 on a winning note, beating Everton away in the Premier League before seeing off Derby County in their FA Cup third round fixture on Saturday to lift spirits for the United faithful and Mata conveyed his delight at the club’s recent run.
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“We have started 2018 with two consecutive wins by 2-0, so we feel very optimistic for the following games. Starting the year with a victory at Goodison Park was very important to confirm that, despite the amount of games that we have played, the team is ambitious and we are capable of beating every opponent,” the articulate Spaniard stated.
“A few days later, the win against Derby County gave us a place in the next round of the FA Cup. As I always say, this competition is particularly nice. There’s something special about it,” Mata added.
Monday night’s FA Cup fourth round draw saw United pitted against League Two side Yeovil Town (the match takes place on January 27) and fans are hopeful that Jose Mourinho’s men will win at least one trophy this season.
United are currently in second place in the Premier League and are expected to make a deep run in the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup both.