Juan Mata knows Manchester United can ill afford to dwell on their derby defeat ahead of the “demanding” Europa League trip to Feyenoord.
A 100 percent start to life under Jose Mourinho came to a galling end on Saturday as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City left Old Trafford triumphant.
Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho’s goals during an impressive first half proved the difference, with United unable to add to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s fine strike despite a marked improvement.
Several United players have spoken about the need to learn from the 2-1 loss, with Mata underlining the importance of retaining focus after the first of six September matches.
“We have suffered the first defeat of the season and, after the initial disappointment, I think there is no time for mourning,” he wrote in his weekly blog.
“On the contrary, it’s time to analyse the aspects of our game that we need to improve, and carry on with hope and motivation.
“It was an important game, but let’s be realistic: the season has just started and there is still a long way to go.
“Obviously, the result was painful for us, both for the fans and for the team.
“Losing a derby is always something tough to take, but I’m sure there are many good moments for us to enjoy in the next few months.”
Attention swiftly turns to European exertions as United get their Europa League campaign under way on Thursday.
It will be Mourinho’s first game in the competition since winning the 2003 UEFA Cup final as Porto manager, with his side kicking off Group A at Eredivisie leaders Feyenoord.
“On Thursday we’re going to play the first game in the Europa League, away against Feyenoord, a classic in European football,” Mata said.
“They have one European Cup in their trophy cabinet and they are having a great start of the season, with five wins in five league games.
“It’s going to be a very demanding debut in this competition.”
Fenerbahce and Zorya Luhansk complete what looks set to be an arduous group for United, whose Premier League campaign takes them to Watford next weekend.
Mata’s goal seven minutes from time edged a 1-0 win when United last met the Hornets in March, and it required a last-gasp winner to eke out a 2-1 victory in last season’s trip to Vicarage Road.
“Last season we struggled a lot to beat them, both at home and away, so I have no reason to think it’s going to be easy this time,” the Spaniard added.
“They just won at West Ham after a good comeback and they have scored in every game so far.
“It’s meant to be a tough game and if we want to get the three points we will have to be at our best.”