Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata feels the recent FA Cup victory over Shrewsbury was the catalyst that gave the Red Devils a crucial boost in self-confidence.
The Spain international bagged the winning goal in his side’s 1-0 victory over Watford in midweek, a result that has moved Louis van Gaal’s men level on points with cross-town rivals Manchester City in the Premier League standings.
The victory over the Hornets also marked a fourth straight win in all competitions for United, leading to a rosier outlook for the club’s supporters while also easing the pressure on Van Gaal.
“It’s a good moment for us, a nice two or three weeks, winning games and enjoying our football, and making our fans proud,” Mata told Sky Sports.
“Since the game against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup, this victory gave us our confidence back. We won a massive game against Arsenal, and we showed character, intensity, and then in the last game, it was tough.
“That’s what confidence means for me and any player I think. When you are winning and when you are having good results it is in a way easier to play your football, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Commenting on the recent influx of youngsters into the United starting line-up and wearing the captain’s armband against Watford, Mata added: “I think it speaks very well for the philosophy of the manager and for the academy of the club.
“The manager believes in them, he showed with Ajax and Bayern Munich that he is not afraid to put young people in the first eleven.
“I was the oldest the other day at 27 years old. If you’d told me 15 years ago in Spain that I was going to be captain of Manchester United, I would say it is almost impossible. I felt very proud and very happy.”