'A final is always a special day' – Mata insists Manchester United will not take EFL Cup for granted

The Spain international has rubbished any suggestion that the League Cup holds less importance for Manchester United than Southampton

Jose Mourinho has made it clear to the Manchester United squad just how important the EFL Cup final is, Juan Mata has said.

United last won the competition in 2010 and have only lifted one major trophy – last season’s FA Cup – since Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager at the end of the 2012-13 campaign.

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Sunday’s final against Southampton will also present Mourinho with his first opportunity to win major silverware with the club, having also won the Community Shield over Leicester City in August.

And although United are still in the hunt to defend the FA Cup and claim success in the Premier League and Europa League, Mata has insisted that they will not treat this final with any less respect.

“Yes. He has told us and I think everyone realises how important it is,” the Spain international told Sky Sports when asked if his side considered the trophy to be important. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a League Cup final – a final is a final and you never know when you will play one again.

Boxed up and ready for Wembley – our kit men have been preparing for Sunday’s final, with help from @DHLManUtd. pic.twitter.com/eA7aAP2DBu

— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 25, 2017

“So you have to take advantage of the chance and try to win it. If you lose it’s a bad feeling.

“A final is always a special day in your career. Obviously if you win it’s much better, but playing a final at Wembley in front of lots of our supporters gives the day a different feeling

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“I consider myself lucky to have won the trophies I have won, but a final is a day you have to be focused on and you need to try not to make mistakes.

“But also you need to try to enjoy it as well. It’s a special day but without enjoying it you cannot perform at your best level.”

Mata’s last visit to Wembley ended in somewhat controversial fashion, with the 28-year-old visibly annoyed to have been substituted late on against Leicester after only coming on in the 63rd minute for Jesse Lingard.

The incident sparked rumours that Mourinho – who sold Mata to United as Chelsea manager in 2014 – would look to offload the attacking midfielder once again, but the Spain international has gone on to establish himself as an integral part of the Portuguese manager’s plans at Old Trafford.

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“It was a different situation because we had one more change than normal, we were winning, and he obviously tried to use some time with the change,” Mata explained. “There was a lot of fuss about it but I was calm and happy at the end because the team won.

“I always have believed in myself and I know what I can bring to the team. I always kept my mind focused on what I had to do and helping the team the best I can. The rest I cannot control but that doesn’t matter to me.”

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