Juan Mata has shed light on a buoyant dressing room atmosphere at Manchester United following a week that saw Jose Mourinho’s men reach the League Cup final and reach the FA Cup fifth round.
Man United lost their 17-game unbeaten streak against Hull City last Thursday, succumbing to a 2-1 defeat, but did enough to secure their place in the League Cup final against Southampton.
And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, made it clear that the dressing room was a happy place following recent results.
“The last few days have been very emotional,” he wrote. “The week with both Cups is over and it’s been very positive for us. We started with a defeat tha ended our streak of undefeated games, although we were able to eliminate Hull and make it to the EFL Cup final.”
“The game was really tough. They played in front of their fans and showed their desire to be in the final, scoring first and putting a lot of pressure on us, but thanks to Paul’s goal we sealed the passport to Wembley’s final, and the team is very much looking forward to it.
“It was odd, because it wasn’t a good game, yet we managed to succeed in our goal: we will go back to Wembley by the end of February.
“I’ve never been able to win this competition in my previous years in England, so I can’t be more motivated. I’ve been hoping to play this final for a very long time! It’s going to be against Southampton, a difficult rival where my good friend Oriol Romeu is playing (and really good, by the way).
“It’s just great having the chance to win the second title of the season. We won the first one last summer and now we are hoping to keep lifting trophies and dedicate them to our fans.
“It would be a big boost of confidence ahead of the last spell of the season, but as I said, if you look at Southampton’s performance against Liverpool in the semi-finals, you know it’s going to be tough.
“This past Sunday we played against Wigan in the FA Cup, where we are the defending champions. The game was more complicated than the 4-0 might say… The score wasn’t too fair with them, because they made things very difficult for us in the first half, playing with a compact defence and showing good skills with the ball possession.
“However, in the second half we were more accurate and we could win the game in a competition that I do love, as you know. I’m sure this will be an unforgettable day for Joel ‘The Cat’ Pereira and for Axel. I hope it’s going to be the first of many special days for both of them in our club.”
Mourinho’s men find themselves in an undeniably promising position heading into February: maintaining pressure on the leading pack in the Premier League; still in the FA Cup; set to go up against a beatable Saint Etienne side in the Europa League; and, of course, preparing for a League Cup final date with Southampton.
United, following a difficult start to life under the Portuguese, are now approaching a potentially incredible crescendo to the season, and supporters will hope to see them fighting on all fronts for as long as possible.