Juan Mata has hailed his Manchester United teammates for producing a strong response to their dismal 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last week by comfortably beating Huddersfield Town.
And they produced the ideal response, preventing the visitors from having any meaningful chances as Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez wrapped up an easy home win.
Writing in his weekly blog, Mata, who claimed an assist for Lukaku, was pleased with how Man United responded.
“When you have a painful defeat like the one we had by mid-week in London, against Tottenham, all you want is for the next game to start as soon as possible,” he said.
“We needed to show the character of the team and to react in front of our fans in order to go back to the winning path. And so we did. I think it was a complete performance, one of those days when the game is under your control, and we managed to close it in time to add the three points.
“I hope we can do the same against Newcastle this coming weekend. We really enjoyed ourselves on the pitch, especially during the second half, and eventually we could dedicate the victory to the victims (and their families) of that fateful day in Munich.”
This was indeed the right response but we didn’t see anything new, and nor was the no-show at Wembley a surprise either.
United have improved this season to the extent that games against lesser sides – especially at home – have been a lot easier. There is more control, better end product with Lukaku around, improved ball circulation, and players taking up better positions.
But when United meet sides that can match their intensity and quality on the ball – once again, especially away from home – there still appears to be some kind of psychological block which seems to knock the spirit out of the performance. That display at Wembley, along with visits to Stamford Bridge and Anfield, serve as prime examples.
Needless to say, if United are to maintain second spot and progress in the Champions League, this is where they need to improve.