Juan Mata praises Manchester United’s ‘complete performance’
‘We must face every game like we did today’: midfielder reflects on win over Fulham
Manchester United’s Juan Mata celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal in their 4-1 win over Fulham. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
A frustrating start to the season has seen pressure mount on manager Jose Mourinho and his players, with a four-match winless streak leaving them well behind in the race for a top-four Premier League finish.
United could ill afford another poor performance on Saturday and secured a timely victory against rock-bottom Fulham.
Ashley Young, Mata and Romelu Lukaku netted in an impressive first-half display, with Marcus Rashford sealing a 4-1 win after substitute Aboubakar Kamara reduced the deficit from the spot – a blot on an otherwise positive day for Mata.
“It’s not easy,” the attacking midfielder said of the second-half approach.
“Obviously it’s a very good position to be, but it’s not easy to keep that level of intensity.
“Subconsciously you relax a little bit when you’re three goals ahead.
“They score so we needed to keep ourselves going and try to score again, which we did.
“It’s always important to be focused for 90 minutes because by doing that we will be a better team.
“I will say that today was a very complete performance. It was a shame that we couldn’t keep the clean sheet, but it was a very good performance.
“A performance that the fans I think they have been waiting for and we know that we have to do this more often.”
Mata said the performance and result was “basically what we needed” after a trying period for all connected with United.
“Good start, good goals, creating a lot of chances, making the fans excited about the game, about our performance,” the Spaniard said.
“We know that we are not in the position that we want to be and should be, so every game I go on to the pitch – or we go on to the pitch – I think about giving everything for the fans and giving a performance like today, so we must face every game like we did today.”
Mata was one of four changes to the 2-2 midweek draw with Arsenal and made an important contribution, becoming the third Spanish player to score 50 goals and register 50 assists in Premier League history.
“It’s not bad,” he said with a smile. “50 and 50. When I came to the Premier League a few years ago I was very excited and very motivated about my period in the Premier League and I am enjoying it so much.
“I am lucky to have been able to score and assist that many goals, but I am still hungry for more: I want more assists, more goals, more enjoyment on the pitch, so hopefully I can do [so].”
Now attention turns to continental matters and a return to Mata’s old stomping ground, with United travelling to former club Valencia knowing progress to the Champions League knockout phase already assured.
“Another special game,” Mata told MUTV. “Valencia has been my home for four fantastic years. I have a lot of love for the club, for the city, for the fans.
“We go in a good position also, we’re already qualified so hopefully I can enjoy that night and we can see a very good game.”