Manchester United beat Newcastle United 4-1 in their Premier League clash on Saturday but Red Devils midfielder Juan Mata felt the game wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggested and they had to dig deep to mount an rousing comeback.
“Last Saturday was a happy start of a marathon of fixtures that will take us straight to Christmas, a series of games that will demand the maximum effort from us,” Mata penned on his blog.
Paul Pogba returned to Jose Mourinho’s starting XI for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in September and the Frenchman put in an all-star display, assisting Anthony Martial for the opener and scoring the third goal to give United some breathing space.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo, coming back from long-term knee injuries, were part of the match-day squad for the first time this season and Mata wrote of his delight on seeing the duo return to action.
“With that in mind, being able to recover players such as Paul, Ibra and Marcos is great news for the team, for we will need the full squad in order to show the best performance in every competition, same as we’ve been doing so far. It was great to see them back on the pitch, especially Marcos and Ibra after such a long time away. They have worked really hard to be back and they deserve to have a great season. I’m sure both of them will help us a lot in the coming months,” the diminutive Red Devils midfielder added.
Saturday’s tie was the first of the 2017-18 Premier League season in which United conceded at home, via Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle, and Mata stressed on why it was imperative that the hosts responded quickly against a side that are well-organised at the back.
“The truth is, last Saturday’s win was special because it was the first comeback of the season. So far, in most of the games we had scored first and won. Against Newcastle, though, we conceded a goal and then we had to come back, and the way we did it was the best proof of the team’s ambition and character. Newcastle is a tough opponent, a well-crafted team with good players, but we were able to defeat them in a complete performance from the whole team.”
United have a busy future list ahead, as they play thrice in the span of a week and Mata feels all games are important for a team of United’s stature play each tie to win.
“Now we have three games in just seven days against sides that won’t give us a break. First of all we travel to Switzerland to play Basel in the Champions League. They are second in the group with the same points of CSKA, which gives an idea of the importance of this game for them, but also for us: we are Manchester United and we are committed to try to win every single game, so I’m sure we will see a tough and even match.”
Jose Mourinho’s men play Premier League newcomers Brighton at home next and Mata revealed why the clash against the Seagulls will be special for him.
“And this coming Saturday we will be back to Old Trafford against Brighton, where my friend Bruno Saltor plays. They are another promoted team with good marks in the Premiership so far. We know that every single team is tough; we have experienced that already this season,” the 29-year-old wrote.
“A win would be very important to confirm what we’ve been talking about in this blog since the beginning of the season,” Mata added.