Van Gaal is demanding and that’s how we like it - Mata

Louis van Gaal is impressing as Manchester United manager, said Mata

Manchester United’s Juan Mata scores past Alessio Romangnoli and goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski of AS Roma during the first half of an International Champions Cup match at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. Photograph: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Manchester United’s Juan Mata scores past Alessio Romangnoli and goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski of AS Roma during the first half of an International Champions Cup match at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. Photograph: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

 

Juan Mata has admitted that Louis van Gaal showed his first flash of anger after the goals Manchester United conceded in Saturday’s win over Roma, though the Spaniard believes the manager’s demand of perfection is precisely what the team needs.

Mata has emerged as Van Gaal’s first choice as the team’s number 10 in his favoured 3-5-2 formation, although the playmaker was among those criticised by Van Gaal after the match. United defeated Roma 3-2 in Denver in their opening group game of the International Champions Cup. Yet after taking a 3-0 lead into half-time, with two goals from Wayne Rooney and one from Mata, United allowed Roma back into the contest. A 70-yard lob from Miralem Pjanic was followed by Francesco Totti’s late penalty and United ended the match hanging on.

And Van Gaal wasted no time in informing his team they cannot afford to be so sloppy in future. “After the game when we had given two goals away he was not very happy, but I think his way is that of a great manager,” Mata said, before emphasising that all of the players respect the Dutchman’s approach.

“He is very honest with the players, he says what he thinks and has a clear way of understanding football. We feel the manager is a great manager who has brought a strong mentality. This club is made for a winning mentality and I think he has it.

‘His style’

Against Roma, for whom Ashley Cole played as a second-half replacement, United were sluggish, with Van Gaal later blaming the heat of the 2pm kick-off and the mile-high altitude of the stadium. Mata added: “The first 15 to 20 minutes we played a bit slow and it was difficult because the pitch was dry. But we tried to perform how the manager wants.

“It is my first pre-season with Manchester United and my first tour with the club and I am trying to get ready for the first game, against Swansea.”

Mata believes fans will see his best play in the forthcoming season. “It was difficult last season, when I arrived it was a difficult time for the club. We had changed managers but didn’t get the results,” he said. “But we are starting a new season with a new manager and we aim to put the club back where it deserves to be and that is fighting at the top.”

Mata also praised the arrival of Ander Herrera, who has impressed on the tour so far, from Athletic Bilbao. “He is a very, very good midfielder. He is top quality, he can play quick, slow, dictate the rhythm of a game. He can score as well. He is a very complete midfielder.

Meanwhile the Roma coach, Rudi Garcia, has indicated that United will have to stump up at least €100m if they want to sign Kevin Strootman. Van Gaal will monitor the Dutchman’s recovery from cruciate ligament surgery before deciding whether to bid for the Holland and Roma midfielder. Guardian Service

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