Juan Mata sets sights on Europa League glory with Manchester United

24 February 2016 06:23

Juan Mata admits the "sadness and frustration" which followed Manchester United's shock loss to FC Midtjylland has only increased his determination to win the Europa League.

United's struggles this season have been well documented, but few foresaw them coming a cropper in Herning last week.

The Danish champions ran out 2-1 victors in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 encounter, setting up a crunch clash at Old Trafford on Thursday.

Mata was amongst those to have under-performed against Midtjylland, making him all the more determined to make amends.

"For me as a player, the only thing I have in my mind is to perform as good as I can in every single game," he said. "Obviously tomorrow, the only idea in my mind is to win.

"We know we have to improve our game level, in terms of how we played in Denmark. We should play better and we should adapt to their team better.

"But as a player it is not about what I say or what I write, it's about how I play and how we play.

"The fans want us to play, to win and make them feel happy with trophies.

"That's my only aim: to win tomorrow, to make another step in this competition and hopefully we can go as far as we can and win the trophy because it has a double meaning for us.

"It has the meaning of winning for the first time for the club this Europa League and also because it gives the chance to play Champions League."

If Mata and his team-mates fail to overcome Midtjylland, though, the pressure on United and manager Louis van Gaal will go up several notches.

The Dutchman wants his players to "use their tools to ignore the criticism" - something Mata appears adept at doing.

"It's something that you have to handle as a professional footballer and playing for such a club," he said.

"No one knows better than myself how I played a game, and no one knows better than us as players how we felt in the game, if we have done good or bad.

"I'm not really bothered about these things. I was very, very sad and frustrated because of the game, the result and our away fans, but not because of the media criticising."

Source: PA

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