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Juan Mata: Manchester United need more consistency to win the Premier League title

Manchester United attacking midfielder Juan Mata has stated that he and his teammates needed to be more consistent in their bid to wrestle the Premier League title from Manchester City. Last season, despite United having a good start in the league, they finished 19 points behind City, which showed just how dominant they really were. Pep Guardiola certainly turned the team which finished fourth the season before into a side willing and able to compete with the likes of Chelsea, who were crowned champions that season (2016/17).

United have not won the Premier League since the 2012/13 season when Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement. United finished in their highest position post-Ferguson last season when they finished second, finishing seventh, fourth, fifth and sixth between being champions and runners-up. Mata, a player that was reported to be one of the casualties when Jose Mourinho took over the club in May 2016, becoming one of the trusted players at the club, spoke to Sky Sports News about United’s problems, saying:

“I know what Manchester United fans want, they want to win trophies, be proud of the team and enjoy us when they watch us play and we want the same. The team that wins the Premier League is the most consistent, winning points and points, week in, week out. We need to do that if we want to win.

“Obviously there is the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup, so we have many tournaments to play for and hopefully we can go to the end in all of them. We want a positive season, to try and play good football and try and win some trophies. We have this magnificent fan base, all around the world. We want to make them proud and win things for them in a good style.”

This season, the third for Mourinho, United will be expected to take on the might of City, aiming to decrease the gap between the two clubs and challenge for the title. Last season they did make a challenge but it seemed to all be over before Christmas as United lost to City in the first Manchester derby early in December. This summer has seen problems arise with around seven players already missing due to their involvement in the FIFA World Cup with their countries being three of the final four, with Mourinho suggesting the likes of Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku will be missing at the start of the season.

During the clubs pre-season tour of the United States of America, which has seen United draw 1-1 with Club America, draw 0-0 with San Jose Earthquakes and beat AC Milan 9-8 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw, also saw Antonio Valencia leave with a calf injury, being yet another player missing from the start of the season. Alexis Sanchez met up with the squad last weekend, playing in the last two matches with Nemanja Matic joining up too, suffering an injury. David De Gea and new summer signing Fred also met up with the squad on Thursday, with the pieces starting to fall into place.

When the squad left Manchester for Los Angeles almost a fortnight ago, 13 academy players were chosen as part of the squad, due to all the World Cup players being on holiday at the time. The likes of Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood, James Garner, Ethan Hamilton, Demetri Mitchell, Tim Fosu-Mensah, Andreas Pereira, Axel Tuanzebe, and Angel Gomes have all been given chances so far this summer, some sparingly, which is an added benefit as they get to train with some first team players. Mata spoke about the youngsters, saying:

“We don’t have a lot of players from the first team squad from last year but I think it’s great for the club to have so many youngsters. I think it speaks well for the academy and how that works that they are bringing so many players to the first team. These guys are having a chance now and they are learning so much by training with us and realising what Manchester United means.”

United will face Liverpool in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Saturday (kick off 22:05 BST in the United Kingdom), seeking to build upon the victory, albeit on penalties, over AC Milan on Thursday morning. Obviously, this is just a pre-season encounter and means very little but any match against Liverpool should be taken seriously as if they win, the fans will be using it as a bragging right and if they lose, it will be a meaningless friendly. United will also face Real Madrid in the early hours of Wednesday morning which will be the end of the USA part of the tour, before facing Bayern Munich in Germany.

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