Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has warned Sheffield United that the New Year has brought a new spirit to the Red Devils as the two sides prepare to meet in the FA Cup third round.
The Blades travel to Old Trafford on Saturday evening, hoping to cause a shock and take advantage of the negativity that had been hanging over the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ for much of the season so far.
However, coming off the back of victory over Swansea at the weekend, Louis Van Gaal’s side’s first since beating Watford on November 21, Mata says there is a belief Manchester United could go on a run that would include avoiding a cup upset when the Blades make the trip across the Peaks.
“Luckily, I feel that we have started 2016 with energy and that our negative streak (much longer than it should be) has been left behind,” said Mata. “Many of you have asked about how we felt as the games went by and the team didn’t win. There was dynamism, courage and energy although we couldn’t win.
“In our last game of 2015, against Chelsea, I think everybody saw what I’m talking about. There was dynamism, courage and energy although we couldn’t win.
“Finally, we did it on Saturday against Swansea. You could see how tough it was, but I think we deserved the three points. I hope this is going to be the start of a good run of results. It depends on us.
“We have a full week ahead to prepare the FA Cup game against Sheffield United. It’s a good time to take a break and remain calm after such a busy calendar.”
Meanwhile, Sheffield United boss Adkins believes that with the pressure off, his side can enjoy the experience at Old Trafford which could allow them to pull off an almighty shock.
“Yes, it’s going to be tough. We know that,” said Adkins. “But we have the freedom to be able to try and give it a real go. So that’s what we’ll be trying to do.”