Juan Mata sends message to Man United team-mate: He is a strong man

Juan Mata pays tribute to Marouane Fellaini after his recent upturn in fortunes at Manchester United

Juan Mata has paid tribute to Marouane Fellaini after the Belgian midfielder bounced back from a difficult few weeks with Manchester United.

The midfielder came in for intense criticism when he came off the bench and conceded a penalty during Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Everton last year.

The Belgium international has found his first-team opportunities limited this season and has only made nine starts in the Premier League under new boss Jose Mourinho.

However, Fellaini played a key role on Tuesday night when he came off the bench to head home Manchester United’s second goal as the Red Devils beat Hull City 2-0 in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg at Old Trafford.

And Mata has paid tribute to Fellaini for the strength of character he has shown in recent weeks.

Mata is quoted as saying by The Daily Express: “I am very happy for Marouane because he has had difficult times since he came to the club.

“This will be a boost for his confidence. It was good to hear the stadium singing his name because he deserved it.

“He is a strong man with experience. And he is not a young player. He is 29 so he has lived so many things in football but it is still not nice when you play in your own stadium and you have not the best atmosphere.

“But now it is different and it has changed. It is going to be positive for him in the future.

“It makes it easier for you as a player when you feel the confidence of everyone. You feel an even better player. Confidence is very important for any player and hopefully Marouane now has his back.”

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Manchester United are currently gearing up for their crunch Premier League clash against Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon.

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