LONDON – The Manchester United players must react as a unit to the shock Premier League defeat by Huddersfield, Spanish star Juan Mata said on Monday.
The 29-year-old attacking midfielder added that despite trailing city rivals Manchester City by five points the title race was a long way from being decided.
Mata was taken off at halftime of the 2-1 defeat on Saturday after his being dispossessed led to the first goal.
Mata and his teammates were lambasted by manager Jose Mourinho after their first defeat of the season, with the Portuguese handler declaring that their attitude had been poor.
“We knew this moment would arrive sooner or later, although that’s something you never wish for, of course,” a contrite Mata wrote in his blog on the United website.
“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.”
Mata, who has fought his way back into Mourinho’s affections after a rocky time when they were at Chelsea together ending with him being sold to United, said the Huddersfield result could be just a blip, given the side’s form prior to the loss.
“Since the European Super Cup defeat last summer (they lost 2-1 to Real Madrid in early August), we’ve been performing really well against all kind of opponents,” said Mata.
“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 (1-0 last Wednesday), a team with plenty of Champions League experience.”
United can get back on the winning trail on Tuesday when the League Cup holders travel to Swansea for their last-16 clash.