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Player News: Rangnick reveals why Juan Mata was handed surprise start vs Brentford

Juan Mata of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match vs Brentford. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Juan Mata of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match vs Brentford. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick explains his decision to start midfielder Juan Mata against Brentford

Speaking after his side’s 3-0 win against Brentford last night (h/t Manchester Evening News), Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick explained his decision to start midfielder Juan Mata in the team’s final home game of the season.

United cruised to a comfortable victory against the Bees at Old Trafford, taking an early lead inside the opening ten minutes after Bruno Fernandes struck home from a fine attacking move down the right flank courtesy of Anthony Elanga.

After the half-time break, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane added two more goals to the scoreline as the Red Devils ensured that they treated their home supporters to an entertaining game during the final home match at the Theatre of Dreams in what has been a disappointing campaign.

Juan Mata was highly influential against Brentford at Old Trafford last night. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Juan Mata was highly influential against Brentford at Old Trafford last night. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

United’s win kept them in sixth place in the Premier League table, and sit five points away from securing a top-four spot that could see them qualify for the Champions League next season. With two games remaining in the campaign, qualification now seems unlikely.

“He deserves to be in the team”

Their dismal league position was forgotten briefly last night, as the Red Devils played out a convincing win against the Bees, with Mata in the thick of it. The 34-year-old was handed his first league start of the season, and he made the most of the opportunity by pulling the strings in midfield and putting together chances for his attackers.

Rangnick was full of praise for the Spaniard, and said that the midfielder deserved to be in the team after playing well against his former club Chelsea a few days ago and impressing in training. The interim boss also said that he decided to shift Bruno Fernandes to the left to accommodate Mata as the No. 10.

“He was very good in training, when he came on against Chelsea he also showed a good performance, he deserves to be in the team, I decided to play him in the centre of midfield and Bruno a little bit from the left.”

Ralf Rangnick revealed why he started Juan Mata against Brentford last night. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)
Ralf Rangnick revealed why he started Juan Mata against Brentford last night. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)

Mata has barely gotten a game all season, falling down the pecking order at the club behind Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, and Anthony Elanga. His age could have been a factor as well, with his managers deciding to play younger players in the team.

The World Cup winner has only gotten to make a few appearances in the first-team during cup competitions. However, as United have been knocked out early in these tournaments, his minutes on the pitch have been limited.

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The business end of the season has given fans more views of Mata on the field, as Rangnick deals with an injury pile-up. The German has afforded more game-time to the ex-Chelsea star during the last few matches, and it has ended up in his first start of the season.

The midfielder made the most of the opportunity as well, combining well with Cristiano Ronaldo up front and nearly bagged a goal for himself. His performance has merited him getting more starts in the two remaining two games of the season, but only time will tell if Rangnick thinks the same.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United applauds their fans after the final whistle vs Brentford. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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Manchester United beat Brentford 3-0, with Anthony Elanga assisting Bruno Fernandes for the opener. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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