Juan Mata effectively confirmed what everyone knows about Man United in interview after Valencia defeat
"The game plan was to win."
Manchester United played out another 90-minutes of misery on Wednesday night. Jose Mourinho's side fell to a 2-1 defeat away to Valencia in their final Champions League tie of the group stage.
Carlos Soler opened the scoring in the first half before Phil Jones had a Phil Jones in the second half, diverting the ball past the stranded Romero in the United goal.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) December 12, 2018
Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back, but it wasn't enough to prevent United from slipping to their sixth defeat of the season.
Mourinho made several changes to his team, as they had already secured passage to the last-16. But they still should have been capable of beating a Valencia side that have only scored 12 times in the league this season.
As Young Boys beat Juventus in the other group game, had United won they would have topped the group. Instead, they go into the more difficult side of the draw.
— Dale Johnson (@DaleJohnsonESPN) December 12, 2018
Following the match, there was an interesting moment between Juan Mata and the BT Sport's Paul Dempsey.
The BT reporter asked Mata for details of United's game plan and tactics for the game. The response of the Spanish midfielder was telling.
BT reporter: "What was the game plan?"
Mata: "The game plan was to win."
BT reporter: "How to do it? What was the actual thought behind it (the game plan)?"
Mata: "What do you mean?
Mata: "I think to show our qualities and play as a team. Some players have not played a lot and it was a very good say for some players to get some minutes.
"It was difficult. It’s a very passionate crowd. We reacted too late. We had some chances at the end but overall it’s disappointing because we know Juventus lost.”
You can watch the exchange here:
Mata's response suggests that there wasn't any clearly defined game plan, which isn't a surprise. If one was to ask Mourinho what was the idea behind his approach in a match, he would also say, "the plan was to win."
Mourinho's sides have long been passive and reactive, sitting off opponents waiting for a mistake rather than taking the initiative and attempting to break them down.
There are no attacking patterns of play. There is no discernible tactical plan beyond don't concede and hope for the talented forwards to create something, or for a set-piece goal. That was evident again on Wednesday night.