Mata Rallies United In Wake Of Mourinho Defeatism

Champions League: Mourinho Asks United Fans To Enjoy Benfica Clash
File Photo:

Manchester United players will have to motivate themselves at home to Bournemouth on Wednesday after manager Jose Mourinho suggested their Premier League title challenge was probably over.

The 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester City on Sunday leaves United second in the table but a daunting 11 points behind their city rivals.

However, United’s Spanish forward Juan Mata issued a stirring rallying call in the wake of the defeat.

“We must carry on, knowing there’s still a long way to go,” said Mata.

“The calendar gives you no time for mourning and we have to focus on what’s next.

“The list of fixtures is very demanding this month so it’s important to get to each game in the best condition possible.

“I think we have the ability to do it, even though we know these are the toughest weeks of the season.

“We are Manchester United and we have experience in playing every few days.”

United’s fixture list is indeed a hectic one — Wednesday’s match is the fourth of nine games they face during December.

It does not help that they will once again be without France midfielder Paul Pogba, who serves the second game of a three-match ban incurred for his sending-off at Arsenal on December 2.

Pogba’s influence was undoubtedly missed during Sunday’s derby, although Bournemouth should be far less of a test for Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera than Manchester City were.

– ‘Picked up little niggles’ –
Herrera still needs to watch his step, though, as he is one booking away from a one-match suspension, as is wing-back Ashley Young.

Mourinho has given every indication so far that he intends to persist with Romelu Lukaku, despite the Belgium striker’s poor run of form in front of goal.

Having scored 11 goals in his first 10 United games, Lukaku has hit just two in 14 appearances since.

Bournemouth’s 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace at the weekend left Eddie Howe’s side three points clear of the bottom three.

The Cherries had Jermain Defoe to thank for claiming a point with the veteran scoring twice and offering signs he is returning to his best form after an inconsistent start to the season.

“Hopefully it’s a start for him, he had a few niggles early on in the season so he was set back a little,” said Howe.

“Now he’s getting back to where he wants to be and that will give us a big lift.”

Defoe concurred with Howe.

“I have picked up little niggles and it’s been a bit stop-start,” said the 35-year-old England international.

“I thought once I get a run of games and the chances come then I will score goals.

“All I have to do is make sure my recovery is right and be professional, like I have always been. We have a lot of games coming up in a short space of time.”

AFP

Man-U 0 Chelsea 0: Hiddink Satisfied, Van Gaal Rues Luck

ChelseaManchester United ended a run of four straight defeats with a goalless draw against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday while Chelsea continued what looked like a resurgence.

Under-fire manager Louis van Gaal insists he will not quit after Manchester United extended their run without a victory to eight games in all competitions.

Sixth-placed United produced an improved display at Old Trafford, with a goalless draw with champions Chelsea.

“I think it was a very good performance but you have to score a goal and we didn’t. We hit the post twice when the keeper was beaten, then had a big chance in the second half and two penalty cases – one handball, one foul on Mata – but didn’t receive a penalty. So we are forcing the luck but still don’t have the luck we need.

“We were the dominant team, we created chances, we shot on goal and only gave three chances away. Against a team like Chelsea, with such attackers, that’s not bad.”

Van Gaal said that he was aware poor form could force a club to sack its manager, but he had the backing of the players and would fight on.

“I cannot have any influence on that (his future). I can only work with my players and you have seen that my players are fighting for me and that they have given a good performance.

“Even after this result, the fans were applauding, so I cannot say that I am very much concerned but in this football world, you never know. But I have full confidence in the board and in my players. When the players can give such a performance under this pressure, then it is not any reason to resign for me.

“Maybe the media wants that but I shall not do that. It’s not a question of staying, it’s a question of fulfilling my contract.”

Hiddink Satisfied With Draw

On the flipside, Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink is satisfied with Chelsea’s draw at Manchester United.

Diego Costa was suspended for the clash while fellow attackers Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao were side-lined by injury, forcing winger Eden Hazard to occupy a centre forward role.

Hiddink, says the team is still building after months of poor results. “Tactically it was okay, defensively we were well organised,” said the manager.

“We didn’t have full power to hurt Man U – as everyone knows we have some problems in the striker position due to suspension and injuries so we had to think how to solve that problem.

“Hazard has done it before and he is capable of doing it because he’s a very versatile player. I’m pleased because we had some good opportunities in the second half. Man U pressed although they didn’t create a lot of chances.

“The two best chances were tremendous saves from the goalies, De Gea and Courtois. So no win but we have to consider the situation where Chelsea were and are.”

Rooney warns teammates against complacency ahead of Chelsea clash

Manchester United striker and England International gave a stern warning  to teammates not to get complacent ahead of the English Premiership clash between the Red Devils and the Blues Chelsea later today.

He said Manchester United must not give lapses for an early goal against the European champions.

Chelsea,surprise winners of last season’s UEFA champions league competition sent out a note of warning to fellow clubs that the new season will be different following their victory in the champions league, as owner Abramovich went on extravagant shopping spree to get the signature of best of the best in the round-leather game and recruited Oscar and Eden Hazard in the off-season for a combined fee of almost 60 million pounds, joining Juan Mata in attack playing just behind Fernando Torres – and the combination has proved to be formidable so far.

Rooney has emphasized the need for United to prevent early goals from the blow of the whistle as they are being hosted in Stamford Bridge by an in-form Chelsea team.

Rooney said it would be better if United can prevent such early goals which will count against them because coming to get equalizers are sometimes very difficult against best teams like Chelsea and this happened against Braga in the Champions League during the week but United was lucky to get back into the game and win it.

Rooney continued that although last season United was able to pull it off against the Blues when they went 3-0 down before they drew, but he is not sure that United can pull it off again if that happens this time as United cannot afford to be going one or two goals down against Chelsea away as it has new crop of talented players now.

He said “Mata is a great player and Hazard has settled in really well in his first season so I think those two along with Torres are the three biggest threats.

“It’s a great start and it’s clear having won the Champions League last season it has given them a lot more confidence, they have brought a lot of new players in and added more speed to the team,” Rooney said.

Chelsea is undefeated in the League, winning seven of their eight games whilst drawing the other against QPR.