Manchester United vs Everton - Mata frustrated at having to watch on as United struggle



Posted Monday, April 03, 2017 by PA

Juan Mata did not enjoy the experience of watching Manchester United from an armchair, but knows he may have to get used to the role of spectator.

The injured Spain international underwent groin surgery on Friday and was forced to miss the following day's game as United were held to a frustrating goalless draw by West Brom at Old Trafford.

Midfielder Mata, who has struck 10 goals in all competitions this season, is unsure when he will be fit for a return to action, but feels support from fans has given him a boost.

"Watching a game of your team on TV is not the best possible experience, but I had to do it on Saturday," he wrote on his website, juanmata8.com.

"As you can imagine, I'm writing this post in not the best possible situation, but first of all I'd like to thank you for all your messages of encouragement during the last few days.

"This situation is new for me, after having surgery, but I feel positive and I'm looking forward to getting well and trying to help the team. Besides, right now your messages of support are like an extra power for me."

The weekend stalemate against the Baggies leaves Jose Mourinho's men fifth in the Premier League table, five points behind rivals Manchester City in the battle for a place in next season's Champions League.

United, who can also qualify for Europe's premier club competition by winning the Europa League, continue their top-four quest at home to seventh-placed Everton on Tuesday.

Mata believes the club have been unfortunate with the number of absent players in recent weeks.

Speaking about the West Brom game, the 28-year-old added: "It was a shame that we weren't able to get the three points because now we would be in a better position, but we have to keep going.

"We had some chances to score that goal that sometimes is so difficult to get, but we couldn't make them.

"Now we have to focus on the next game against Everton at home this Tuesday, and try to win this one.

"At this moment we're being unlucky in terms of players injured or suspended. I hope the situation gets better from now until the end of the season."

United's cause will be boosted for the midweek visit of the Toffees with the return of top-scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mata's compatriot Ander Herrera.

The pair have both completed suspensions, with Ibrahimovic missing three matches due to his elbow on Tyrone Mings and midfielder Herrera sitting out two games following his dismissal during the FA Cup loss at Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman has defended Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku following their performances in Everton's Merseyside derby defeat to Liverpool.

Toffees boss Koeman admitted his team under-performed in the 3-1 loss at Anfield and accepted the pair could have played better.

But the Dutchman felt it was unfair for Barkley and Lukaku to be singled out.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the trip to Old Trafford, Koeman said: "What I don't like is too much individually about the performances of the players because it is a team, every individual is part of the team and the team was not good enough.

"I said not too much individually but maybe some players didn't perform at the level what maybe they showed in the last few games. Maybe, yes.

"Romelu, it was difficult. I spoke to Romelu, he was not really sharp, he was a little bit tired.

"(But) he's the top-scorer of the league. Why now about the Liverpool game (do) we need to criticise Rom? He's a great striker, he's working hard. It's a human boy, it's not always a 10, that's football and if you don't play football, maybe you don't understand it."

Moving on to England midfielder Barkley, Koeman added: "Ross played in a little different position than he played in the last few weeks. Of course, he lost several balls in the midfield, instead of playing a little bit faster and no dribbling with the ball.

"He needs to improve in that, but not to take out one or two (players for criticism) and that was the problem last Saturday, that's not fair.

"It's easy to give your opinion in front of the television without any responsibility. I'm happy, I see a lot of progress in the club, in the team, it's a whole season, it's not one game."

Koeman is expecting a tough match against United, adding: "We know that they have difficulties at home, maybe in the last few home results, but they had a lot of ball possession and were the better team in every game. They had chances to score.

"They are still a really strong team."

The Toffees' ex-United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin (calf) could be available come the weekend but will remain sidelined for this game, along with the likes of James McCarthy (hamstring), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee) and Seamus Coleman (broken leg).

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