Juan Mata has brushed off the criticism of Manchester United this season and said the players don’t need to be told when they have not performed.
United’s struggles this season have been well documented and continued in the Europa League last week when they suffered a surprise defeat at FC Midtjylland, setting up a crunch second leg of the last-32 tie at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
Mata was among 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 [on Thursday], 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, 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.”
Louis van Gaal 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.”