Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata admits he is trying to stay optimistic after failing to convince manager Louis van Gaal.
The Spain international, who joined the Red Devils from Chelsea last January, has not started a Premier League match for United since the win at Queens Park Rangers on January 17.
Mata has played just 40 minutes in Manchester United’s previous six Premier League matches and has not completed 90 minutes in a league fixture since the 1-0 defeat to Southampton over two months ago.
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Mata to start v Tottenham?
But ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against Tottenham at Old Trafford - with Ashley Young and Angel di Maria expected to miss the match through injury and suspension, respectively - Van Gaal could hand Mata an opportunity to impress.
And the player himself, in a question and answer session on his official Facebook page, reassured fans that he is continuing to work hard during these tough weeks.
Mata: I'm still working hard
“I´m working in the same way i have always done, with the same attitude and the same passion!” he wrote. “That´s all i can do, i´m always optimistic and ready to contribute to the team at any time!”
Mata also revealed that he and his Manchester United teammates believe they will secure a top-four finish in the Premier League table, despite the daunting run of fixtures facing them, while he is also relishing the prospect of going head-to-head against Spurs.
Mata relishing Spurs challenge
“Hopefully is going to be a good result for us,” Mata added. “I enjoy playing against Tottenham because i had some good experiences against them!”
Indeed, Mata was arguably the best player on the pitch when United faced Tottenham at White Hart Lane in December.
That contest finished 0-0, but Mata was the creative spark who made Manchester United tick that afternoon.
Mata needs to play - or he should leave
The Red Devils have lacked creativity in recent weeks, hence why so many United fans have been left bemused by Van Gaal’s decision to play Fellaini ahead of the technically-gifted Mata.
While Fellaini has his uses - particularly in the air - he lacks the overall quality of Mata, who is a far superior footballer.
If Mata is overlooked for this weekend’s game then he will need to start considering his options - just as he was forced to at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho.
The Spaniard is wasting his career sitting on the subs’ bench at Old Trafford and Van Gaal ought to be doing an awful lot more to get the best out of a player who cost the Red Devils £37.1 million.
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