Juan Mata believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can turn Manchester United around despite their poor start to the 2019-20 season.
United lost their last Premier League game 2-0 at West Ham and needed a penalty shoot-out to beat League One side Rochdale in the EFL Cup at Old Trafford this week.
Ahead of Monday’s visit of Arsenal, United are eighth in the Premier League table, level on points with clubs including Burnley and Sheffield United.
United have lost three of their last six Premier League home games and have not won a competitive away game since March, when they shocked Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Mata, however, has faith Solskjaer is the man to get United back on the right path and played down the importance of the figure in the dugout.
“I believe in him. I believe in how he really puts his life into the project that he’s got in front of him..” Mata told The Times. “He knew it was difficult when he came. He knows how our rivals are doing, but he wanted to take it anyway.
“The manager’s position is sometimes exaggerated, for good and bad. Carlo Ancelotti won the Champions League with Real Madrid [in 2014], when they equalised in the 90th minute with the Sergio Ramos goal.
“If Luka Modric doesn’t take the corner quick, and they lose? Is Ancelotti a worse manager? For me, no. I feel sorry for managers when I miss a chance, we lose and they get criticised and they did ‘a bad plan’. It’s the same plan except I missed. It’s me, not them.
“Of course, there are certain individuals that change a team: Diego Simeone, Jurgen Klopp, Pep [Guardiola]. Sir Alex [Ferguson] changed the history of this club. But sometimes we try to justify everything with the manager.
“Managers are very important but I like when I’ve heard Zinedine Zidane or Pep say, ‘I’m good only because my players do the things I tell them to but I’m not the last connection with the ball’.”
— Juan Mata García (@juanmata8) September 14, 2019
United midfielder Paul Pogba remained at Old Trafford despite telling reporters he was ready for a new challenge, with Mata glad the World Cup winner was retained.
“Paul is a very important player for us. He has fantastic qualities: physically, his vision’s very good, his passing’s very good,” Mata added.
“He’s a complete midfielder. He’s got many things around him, social media life, but when you’re face to face with him, he’s very humble, a very nice guy, he has a good heart. I like him.”
Pogba was overlooked in midweek when instead Axel Tuanzebe wore the armband in the EFL Cup win over Rochdale, but Mata feels Harry Maguire could be the club’s permanent captain in the future.
“Why not?,” Mata said. “He has experience, his physical presence is important, centre-back is a good position to be a commanding personality in the team and he has international experience.
“He’s come to a big club, really having a chance to make that next step towards to even more.”
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