Mata: Why United's supporters are priceless
Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has admitted he feared the fans would boo him and the team at the end of his first season at the club.
Instead, the warm reaction from the Old Trafford faithful following the final home game of the 2013/14 campaign, against Hull City, told him everything about the spirit and support of our wonderful crowd.
In a lengthy chat with David May and Helen Evans for the latest eagerly awaited UTD Podcast, which is released on Monday, the Spaniard spoke about the connection with the supporters and how two of his colleagues assured him such an attitude was only to be expected from the fans.
UTD Podcast: How the fans amazed Mata in 2013/14Video
“What I remember the most about that first season was we always do a lap of honour, if you like, to say 'thank you and goodbye, see you next season'. I was very, very afraid of that.
“We were in seventh position in the league, a position Manchester United should never be in. I was like I'm going to wave and they're going to boo us and insult us, like they should feel. I come from Spain and know things turn difficult when a team is not performing.
“I didn't want to look at the people, just in case. I was embarrassed. About halfway [around the pitch], I realised they were clapping and singing, encouraging us and saying it doesn't matter, it's next season. This is incredible.
“It was unbelievable to have such fans behind you,” he added.
“You're seventh in the league with Manchester United, having been winners the year before with Sir Alex Ferguson, but they don't lose patience. They say: 'keep going, it doesn't matter'.
“It got me a bit emotional because I didn't expect it. I'd never experienced this before in Spain. The expectations are high if a big club doesn't perform. There is a lot of pressure on them.
“I feel, in England, the fans understand more that you can lose and have a defeat. They are patient and this was the first example of it. I've had many more after that first example of how great, passionate and patient Manchester United fans are.
Behind the scenes with Juan Gallery
Our photographer took some cool snaps as we were recording the latest UTD Podcast, with Juan Mata.
“It was unbelievable but I remember, when we finished, I spoke to David [De Gea] and Rio [Ferdinand] and the said they knew it was going to happen because we know them. It was just priceless.”
Listen to the rest of the interview from Monday evening, as well as previous UTD Podcast episodes, via the Manchester United website, App and all your favourite podcast platforms.
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