Juan Mata has revealed how the Manchester United dressing room felt after the 3-1 defeat to Watford on Sunday, outlining the pervasive frustration and disappointment that stemmed from conceding during a period of sustained dominance.
Another woeful first-half – hallmarked by a lack of defensive steel in midfield and direction going forward – saw Jose Mourinho’s side go into the break 1-0 down.
The 53-year-old made some structural changes at half time, leading to a period of almost complete dominance; but despite Marcus Rashford‘s equaliser, Man United fell to another galling defeat, conceding two late goals on the break.
Writing in his weekly blog, Mata expressed his dejection at the side’s failure to capitalise on their dominance.
“Today, I believe there’s no need to start by describing how frustrated we feel in the team after losing at Watford. To be honest, after the 1-1 we really thought we were going to win the game,” he said.
“We had scored and we were playing near Watford’s box. However, it was precisely in that good moment that they scored again and since then until the final whistle they were in better control of the situation, and we lost the three points. It was an unexpected disappointment.
“As I always say, one of the best things of football is that the game is testing you all the time. A win doesn’t last too long, and it happens the same way with a defeat: you have the chance to make it up soon afterwards. Two more games this week will give us the opportunity to show on the pitch our pride and skills. There’s no time for mourning. We must react.”
Watford’s winner arrived after a period of complete dominance from Mourinho’s side: continuous free kicks, corners, shots flailing wide, bodies charging into the box, a stunning save from Heurelho Gomes, but no winning goal.
The lack of end product (United had 15 shots, but only two on target) stemmed from the clear dysfunction that continues to enshroud this Mourinho side. Unanswered questions surrounding formation, midfield and Wayne Rooney in general precipitated a disjointed type of onslaught.
It was, in many ways, a demonstration of clear intent and direction under Mourinho, whilst also a manifestation of uncertainty in selection.