Belfast Telegraph

Mata demands killer instinct from misfiring Manchester United

The Red Devils were held to a frustrating draw at Southampton on Saturday.

Juan Mata wants Manchester United to kill games off (Mark Kerton/PA)
Juan Mata wants Manchester United to kill games off (Mark Kerton/PA)

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer

Juan Mata is frustrated that Manchester United keep falling short due to a lack of killer instinct.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men started the season with a thumping 4-0 win against Chelsea, but things have gone awry in front of goal since then.

United blew the chance to win at Wolves and that 1-1 draw was followed by a chastening 2-1 home loss to Crystal Palace last weekend.

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Southampton’s Jannik Vestergaard brought United down to earth (Mark Kerton/PA)

Saturday’s trip to Southampton was another winless match for the Reds, who saw Daniel James’ brilliant opener cancelled out by Jannik Vestergaard.

Even Kevin Danso’s second-half dismissal for the hosts could not inspire United, who have five points from their opening four matches following that 1-1 draw.

“Two points dropped,” attacking midfielder Mata said. “We were expecting Southampton (to have) some chances and play some good football for some moments.

“I think we have to come to these kind of games and win and come back to Manchester with three points or the feeling is frustration and two points dropped again.

“When you score the first goal and you have the ball and you seem that you are having the tempo of the game, you need to kill (it off) and score the second goal and then the game is more or less done.”

Those comments echoed Solskjaer’s sentiments and Mata knows they need to up their game.

“We started the season really well against Chelsea at home, winning 4-0, great second half, I would say and after that, at Wolves we felt we dropped two points,” the Spaniard said.

“We lost against Crystal Palace at home which we shouldn’t accept and it shouldn’t happen again, and today another two points dropped.

Deserving is not enough: you have to get it. Juan Mata

“We need to find this consistency and try to win and add three points after three points and that’s our main objective.

“I think we are deserving more in almost every game but deserving is not enough: you have to get it.”

United are yet to hit their straps but at least they know exciting talent James is able to handle top-flight football.

A low-key summer arrival from Swansea, the 21-year-old proved to be a thorn in Saints’ side and scored a stunning strike that took his Premier League tally to three goals – as many as Alexis Sanchez could manage for United.

“(It was a) very good goal, a fantastic finish,” Mata told MUTV. “He’s a very hard-working player.

“He gave us a lot on the wing and even in the second half when everyone was a bit tired, he was still sprinting and giving very dangerous crosses.

“(I’m) very happy for him and hopefully he can do it many more times.

“Football is easier right, if you are that quick? He takes advantage of that.

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Daniel James applauds the fans at St Mary’s (Mark Kerton/PA)

“He goes one against one and it’s very difficult for a defender to take the ball off him. We need to use him even more.”

Saints rode their luck at times but defended well on the whole, with Vestergaard impressing at the back and scoring an impressive leveller.

“We’re very happy with a point,” the centre-back said. “I think we deserved it already against Liverpool, when we didn’t get it, but today we were rewarded for the hard work we put in.

“It was our game plan to go out there and shake them a little bit – make them uneasy – because when they get comfortable, they’re obviously very good and have world-class players.”

PA

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