Juan Mata wants Manchester United to show unity as they look to bounce back from their lacklustre defeat at Huddersfield.
United’s first Premier League defeat of the season, a leaden-footed 2-1 reverse, saw manager Jose Mourinho tear into his side’s “poor attitude” and lack of desire.
But Mata, who was hooked at half-time at the John Smith’s Stadium, has called for the team to pull together and return to the methods which saw them secure 10 wins and two draws from their previous 12 matches.
In his blog on the club’s official website, the Spaniard wrote: “We knew this moment would arrive sooner or later, although that’s something you never wish for, of course.
“Now, it’s time to learn from mistakes and keep going, as we always do, showing that the team sticks together when things don’t go so well, which is when we need it most.
“Since the European Super Cup defeat last summer, we’ve been performing really well against all kind of opponents. On Saturday, though, Huddersfield played their cards better than us and took all three points. All we can do now is congratulate them and move on. This is a not a sprint, but a marathon and there is still a long way to go.
“Let’s not forget that, before that game, we had got a good win in Lisbon. We beat a very good side in Benfica, a team with plenty of Champions League experience.”
The Red Devils have an early opportunity to wipe the slate clean, as they continue their defence of the Carabao Cup with Tuesday’s last-16 trip to Swansea.
From there it is back to Old Trafford for the visit of Tottenham, who thrashed Liverpool at the weekend to go level with United on 20 points.
By Saturday evening it should become clear whether Mata’s optimism is shared in the dressing room.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” wrote Mata of the Swansea tie.
“But, we are the reigning champions and we will try our best to win and keep moving forward. There’s another big game next weekend, this time against Tottenham.
“They’re one of the most difficult teams to beat in the top-flight, and it’s a key game for us to show all the virtues we have been talking about over the last two months.”
Phil Jones limped off against the Terriers at 0-0 and will not feature at the Liberty Stadium, though there is a decision to make over his replacement, Victor Lindelof.
The Swede turned in a sloppy performance and was directly responsible for what proved to the winning goal. Eric Bailly’s continued absence could mean he gets the chance to redeem himself but Mourinho may also be keen to see 19-year-old Axel Tuanzebe in action.
Scott McTominay, Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian and Sergio Romero are others eyeing places in the event of changes.