Juan Mata has apologised to Manchester United fans after the team’s embarrassing capitulation at Leicester City on Sunday.
United were on course for successive Premier League victories for the first time under Louis van Gaal but let a two-goal lead slip with the score at 3-1, conceding four goals in 21 second-half minutes.
Leicester’s 5-3 victory, their first home win over United in 29 years, came courtesy of an abject defensive display from United with Rafael and Tyler Blackett both giving away penalties either side of errors which allowed Leonardo Ulloa and Esteban Cambiasso to give the Foxes a foothold in the game.
Mata was at fault for Jamie Vardy’s goal as he surrendered possession to Ritchie De Laet, who stormed up the field to set up the Leicester striker for the hosts’ fourth.
In his weekly blog, Mata wrote about the deep pain he felt at being part of the defeat, a result which leaves United languishing 12th in the Premier League after five matches.
“After a whole week waiting for the match I could not imagine a Sunday like this,” the Spaniard said.
“The way back from Leicester to Manchester on the bus seemed really long. I keep thinking about how we lost a game that was under control.
“It’s really tough to score three goals away and come back home with no points. On our way back to Manchester I was thinking about what had happened and felt so disappointed as all those that came with us to the stadium.
“Honestly, I feel very sorry that the weekend ended up for our fans in such a sad way.”
Mata, who came on for Radamel Falcao in the second half at the King Power Stadium, said he had spent “a few hours” trying to come up with the words to describe his disappointment at the defeat.
Others, however, were quicker to pass judgement with former United captain Gary Neville branding the team as ‘soft-centred’.
“I thought the midfield three for United and the back four got bullied,” Neville told Super Sunday. “There’s no doubt Manchester United are soft-centred. They’re not tough enough.”
Mata hopes United will be able to bounce back from the Leicester defeat by recording back to back wins over West Ham and Everton before the second international break of the season.
“There is time during the week to analyse what happened and learn from our mistakes so as not to make them again,” Mata added.
“Now we will play two consecutive games at Old Trafford that we want to win for our fans. We will put in our best efforts, you can be sure of that.
“I hope to be in a better mood next Sunday.”
United will be without injured defenders Phil Jones and Jonny Evans for the visit of West Ham while centre-back Tyler Blackett is suspended following his red card at Leicester.
Luke Shaw is expected to fill the defensive gap and start for the first time since his summer move to Old Trafford, while Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini has returned to training after recovering from an ankle injury.