Man United's Juan Mata: 'Big boost' to have Pogba, Ibrahimovic back
MANCHESTER -- Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have given Manchester United a huge boost at a crucial stage of the season by returning from injury, Juan Mata has told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview.
Ibrahimovic and Pogba both made their comebacks in the 4-1 win against Newcastle on Saturday -- Ibrahimovic after seven months out with a knee injury and Pogba after missing 12 games with a hamstring problem.
The busy winter fixture list will see United play nine games in December alone and Mata has revealed that Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Marcos Rojo, who has also returned after seven months out with a knee injury, have given the whole squad a lift.
"When you play for such a club, the expectation is amazing and you always have to win," he told ESPN FC. "You always have to play good and win, and, at the end of the season, lift trophies.
"The more that we are fit to play the better for everyone. Zlatan and Paul are experienced players, top players and they give us a lot of things on and off the pitch. It's a big boost for us.
"Zlatan and Marcos have been out for a long time and it's great to have them back. They trained hard, they fought hard to be back so it's really positive to see them on the pitch and see them performing well.
"With Paul the same. You know how much he likes football. He hates to be out of the football pitch, so it's been a great week for us in terms of injured players coming back. It's a big boost for the whole team and for the mentality of the squad."
Mata, 29, will celebrate his four-year anniversary at United in January and last season he added the Europa League and League Cup to the FA Cup he won in 2016.
After winning two trophies in his first season, Jose Mourinho brought in Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof over the summer to help challenge for the Premier League and Champions League this season. And Mata believes Mourinho has built one of the most complete squads he has known at Old Trafford.
"I think at United right now we have a fantastic squad," he added. "We have a good mix of experienced players and young players, players who know the Premier League really well.
"We have signed great additions to the squad. I don't know if it's the best, but it's definitely one of the most complete squads that I have been in. We play so many different tournaments, not just the Premier League, the cups and the Champions League and we need to be ready.
"We need to have a deep squad if you want to compete until the end in every single trophy so I think the manager if happy with the squad. As a team, we feel confident and really happy with each other. I think there is a good atmosphere in the dressing room. Hopefully we can do great things together."
Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.