Mata on Mourinho
Mourinho came in as the Dutchman’s replacement and led the Red Devils to League Cup and Europa League glory in 2017, writes JOSHUA JONES.
Despite reports of a rift and leaving Chelsea just six months after Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge, Mata insists there was never any personal problems between the pair.
Speaking about their reunion, he said: “I wasn’t nervous. I was feeling like those six months at Chelsea where I stayed, I was feeling ‘Let’s go for it, you know?’
“I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to with him in Chelsea, but you know football changes, and Chelsea’s squad is different to United’s squad.
“So many people were asking me, ‘What did you say in the beginning?’ I was like, ‘I’ll tell you – we spoke about Manchester, and a game that Barcelona had played a few days ago, and football’. It was completely normal and good relationship between us.
“The respect is mutual, and we never had any personal problem. The situation was a football situation. He played in a certain way that maybe didn’t suit perfectly my qualities as a player, and that’s it. Sometimes it happens in football.
“But my mentality was: okay, I’m going to try. My family was a bit scared. The fans were telling me, ‘What are you going to do?’ But I had it clear in my mind that I’m going to stay and prove that I can play much more than people think, and I did.
“And it’s one of the things that I feel very proud [of] in my career: having made that decision, testing myself and keeping going and playing, at the end, the Carabao Cup final, the Europa League final, and feeling an important player in the squad. That’s how I felt before, and how I felt with him.”