Juan Mata has not held back in his assessment of the bleak season endured by Manchester United and has recommended big changes going forwards.
The Red Devils are glad to be seeing the back of a poor campaign in which a host of problems have plagued the club. While they can still make next season’s Europa League, that is no consolation for knowing what they should be striving for.
United, who finished second in the Premier League last season, started brightly – helped by Cristiano Ronaldo’s return.
However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lost his job as manager in November and Ralf Rangnick has not been able to inspire a turnaround. In fact, Man Utd‘s hopes of finishing in the top four have faded away.
Mata, 34, has been on the periphery of the first team this season, but has seen everything that has gone wrong first-hand.
He subsequently urged new manager Erik ten Hag to get more out of the players, reset the club’s culture and make the club better able to deal with big changes such as a change of manager.
“It’s clear that on the pitch, we have made many mistakes,” the Spaniard told The Athletic.
“We could have also dealt better with certain situations that were happening in the club, managers changing, negative things. I think at the end of the day we let that maybe affect too much the energy of Carrington.
‘Certain standards were not met. Whether that’s attitude, level of training, off the pitch, which doesn’t include players, I think we all agree.
“If we are completely honest and speak with certain people at the club, we haven’t been good enough. And so that’s where I think we could learn. Also there were certain things that were out of our control, which we shouldn’t let affect us.
“Naturally you feel that way when you can see certain things are not good enough. But we shouldn’t have let things happen. Many circumstances can affect certain behaviours. If you don’t have a solid base, when bad things come, it is difficult to stay all together.”
Mata urges big Man Utd changes
Mata insisted that anyone who doesn’t meet the standards Man Utd expect is “not up to the task and should not be here”.
He added that the inability to get the best out of the club’s star players is a “big problem”.
“From a manager point of view winning will come closer when you bring the best out of every single player in the squad; the ones who play more, the ones who play less,” Mata said.
And there have been plenty of players who have fallen foul of that criticism at Man Utd this season.
Man Utd stars are guilty
Last season, Bruno Fernandes beat Frank Lampard’s record for goals from a Premier League midfielder in all competitions in a season, with 28 strikes.
However, he has dropped off this season, as has centre-back and captain Harry Maguire.
Meanwhile, summer signing Jadon Sancho has not had the desired impact following his move from Borussia Dortmund.
And while Marcus Rashford came back from shoulder surgery with an instant impact, he too has struggled.
As for who has performed, Anthony Elanga has shown promise in his breakthrough campaign up front. What’s more, goalkeeper David de Gea has saved United on countless occasions.