Juan Mata believes that Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Saint Etienne will serve as an important source of confidence ahead of the League Cup final against Southampton on Sunday.
The Spaniard produced a sublime assist for Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal after just 15 minutes, ensuring that Mourinho’s men could navigate the remaining minutes with relative ease.
Injuries to Mkhitaryan and Michael Carrick, alongside a red card for Eric Bailly, were the only negatives that stemmed from United’s visit to France.
And Mata, speaking on BT Sport after the game, insisted that the win against Christophe Galtier’s side would help Mourinho’s men head to Wembley with more confidence.
“From the first minute I think we were very professional,” Mata said.
“We scored one goal which made it easier for us and we are very happy. You know its not just about qualifying but winning and going into the [EFL Cup] final on Sunday with more confidence.
“It was the best way to face the final – qualifying and winning and we have more confidence.
“We have now three days to rest. Southampton haven’t played in the last week so they may be more fresh but I think we face the final with confidence and will try and win the second trophy of the season.”
It is worth asking whether Mourinho’s decision to field a full-strength team was indeed fully vindicated by the result. He will now be without two indispensable players for the game against Southampton in the form of Carrick and Mkhitaryan, and one suspects the Portuguese could have done without seeing Bailly pick up a red card.
That said, Mourinho’s men will travel to Wembley full of self-belief after claiming a comfortable victory away in Europe, with the Portuguese still able to call upon an array of powerful influences ahead of the clash with Claude Puel’s men.