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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Juan Mata: Van Gaal style suits me

Manchester United attacker Juan Mata insists he is ready to thrive in his favoured No.10 role under Louis van Gaal and believes the Dutchman's system will be perfect for him.

Van Gaal has revitalised United's tactics ahead of the new Premier League season. The 3-5-2 formation he used in the club's preseason friendlies has seen a transformation in several players, most notably Spain international Mata.

The 26-year-old was largely deployed in a wider position by previous boss David Moyes last season following his January move from Chelsea. However, Mata told the Daily Mail that, while it has been difficult to adapt to some of his new manager's methods, he has welcomed the return to a central role.

"I hope it will be [perfect] for me," Mata said. "I feel comfortable in that position. I can play as a midfielder defensively or as a striker offensively if that's what I have to do.

"My mission is to assist and score. I can do that from this position and I hope I can have a great season. More importantly it has to be a great season for the team. This system is difficult and it's difficult to adapt. You have to be very fit, for example.

"You have to be focused but, if you manage to master it, you can put lots of pressure on the opponent and you can hurt them with the ball.

"I think everyone knows that Dutch football likes to play a good way, a way I like to play and watch. This manager wants passing and movement and triangles. It's how I play my best."

Mata joined United from Chelsea for a club-record fee of 37.1 million pounds last January.

Van Gaal has made a forceful impact since his arrival at Old Trafford, while both United players and chiefs have warmed to his meticulous methods.

New signing Ander Herrera revealed Van Gaal's honesty was a trait that has been appreciated by his players, while Tom Cleverley also explained the 63-year-old is not afraid to put his foot down in training.

Mata reiterated that view, saying: "He is a manager who feels every session. Not just a game but a training session. To him, it's all important. He is very into it.

"Sometimes he sees a striker or midfielder not make the right pass, he stops the session and tells them. He loves to do that. He is very temperamental."


As we count down to kickoff on Aug. 16, ESPN FC previews all 20 teams in this season's competition. Can Burnley, QPR and Leicester stay up? Will the new signings of Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa and Adam Lallana help usurp Man City's crown? Will Manchester United get back on track under Louis van Gaal?


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