Standards must be raised at Manchester United following last season’s disappointment, according to Juan Mata.
Former Spain international Mata previously described United’s end-of-season slump, which saw them win just two of their last 12 matches in all competitions and miss out on Champions League qualification, as “very painful”.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led the club to eight consecutive victories after taking over from Jose Mourinho last December but soon found himself under pressure as the club failed to win any of their last six matches in 2018-19.
Mata started 16 Premier League games last season – the fewest across the course of a full season since he joined the club in January 2014.
In an interview with United’s official app, the former Chelsea and Valencia playmaker issued a rallying cry as the team look to return to the club to its former glories.
“Last season was not easy for any of us and for them [the fans] also,” he said.
“I have to say thank you because they helped us in the difficult moments. All I can say is that we will try our best to make them proud. We know that we have to improve.
“We have to set ourselves higher standards and demand more from each other if we want to improve. We know that from the first day of pre-season and we are determined to improve, to have a better season and to make them proud.
“We had a meeting on the first day in which the manager and the staff spoke about what they expect from us, what they expect from Manchester United players and I think that is the right thing to do.
“I think we all have to know what we represent, we have to know the level that people expect from us and I think it is good to do it the first day. Since then, they are trying to help the players, trying to improve in the way they want us to play and it is all fine so far.”
Because the feeling of being a @ManUtd player is something very special. Unique. I’m really proud to sign a new contract and keep trying my best to bring the club back where it belongs. #MUFC pic.twitter.com/9IORMF73EU
— Juan Mata García (@juanmata8) June 19, 2019
Mata, who turned 31 in April, surprised some of the club’s supporters by signing a new two-year United contract in June, with the option for a further season.
“We know that in football there are three or four big clubs in the world, or in Europe, and United is one of them,” said Mata, who has won the FA Cup, the EFL Cup and the Europa League during his time at Old Trafford.
“Despite the fact we haven’t been living the best moment in our history, even if we were winning trophies, that feeling of waking up every day and feeling like a Red Devil is unbelievable. I wanted to keep feeling that, I wanted to stay and I wanted to give my best to bring United to where it belongs.
“I have been here a bit more than five years and I have realised how amazing the supporters are and especially in the tough moments. I cannot imagine how it would be if we win a big trophy, how the town would turn red and I imagine myself in that situation.
“That is another reason why I wanted to stay. I have lived difficult moments but I am really looking forward to living great moments in this club. I wanted to stay, I wanted to commit to the club, to keep enjoying wearing the shirt and keep trying my best.”
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