Mata: Greenwood is a natural finisher
Juan Mata was full of praise for our Man of the Match, when he spoke to MUTV after the win over AZ...
Q: Juan, it took a while to get going, but when it did, we were devastating in that second half… JM: Yeah, I have to say that the second half was much better than the first half. We didn’t start well, but I have to say they started well in the get the first half. We didn’t get the rhythm with the ball, or with our defending. In the second half we changed the shape a little and I think it was better for us and we scored four goals in not too many minutes. Obviously, that made the game much easier for us and we enjoyed it until the end. Overall, I would say that it is a good night because we qualified top of the group and we scored four goals, so we are happy. Q: That link-up play between you and Andreas for Ash’s goal was great. It was important to get that first goal, but you must have enjoyed that interplay… JM: Yeah, it was very important to score that goal and I think he scored from a very difficult angle. We enjoyed it, especially more in the second half, on the left-hand side, playing and moving. We had nice lines to play these passes. I’m very happy with the goal and the assist, but, overall, with the performance of everyone in the second half. The young players, they played very well, like they normally do. Some of the players who are not playing a lot also got minutes, so I think it was a positive night. Q: One of the young players – Mason Greenwood – two more goals for him at 18, he seems to really be such a natural finisher… JM: Yes, he is a natural finisher. Sometimes, when he plays as a striker it seems like he’s not very involved with the game, but when the ball falls to him in the box, it’s a goal almost every time. He’s got this killer instinct and he is a very good striker at his age. I think this year he has developed a lot through playing professionally and he’s even scoring in Europe. We are very happy for him. Q: Sometimes people criticise the Europa League, but the opportunity it has given the younger players – Mason, Brandon, James Garner and others – we saw again how useful it can be… JM: Of course. As a team, we have to be ready to play every single game and we have a big squad. Some players are playing more in the Europa League. We have to remember, also, that a few years ago we qualified for the Champions League by winning the Europa League, which is another opportunity. So, we’ll try to keep winning in Europe and also getting points in the Premier League. Good to get off the mark for the season as well? Yeah, it was good. It’s the best feeling in football to score a goal. I was feeling confident with the penalty and I put it in, so now I’m happy. With all these games coming up in December, you’ve given the manager a bit of a headache. He made nine changes and with lots of games coming up, I suppose it’s a nice problem to have? JM: I think he will tell you that it’s a nice problem to have. I think, as a manager, you need players to make choices and right now we have players coming back from injury, getting into the rhythm and playing very well today. So, yeah, I think he might have a problem, but a good problem.