Juan Mata believes the high-intensity training which the squad have undergone in the US is playing a big part in ensuring he is fit and ready for the start of the new campaign.
The Spaniard only returned to club duty little over a week ago after representing his national team – along with Fernando Torres and Cesar Azpilicueta – at the Confederations Cup in Brazil, where they were beaten finalists.
Having featured as a late substitute in Thursday’s win over Inter Milan, Mata played the second 45 minutes in Sunday’s 2-0 victory against AC Milan in New Jersey, and he believes the combination of much-needed game time and demanding training sessions are helping him improve physically ahead of our opening game against Hull City.
‘Playing against AC was good for me,’ he said. ‘The players who were in the Confederations Cup need minutes, and with games like this it’s better for us.
‘Each manager has his own kind of work, but in terms of intensity the training has been high and I think it’s really good to get the intensity into our game.’
During his first two seasons at the club, Mata played an instrumental role as we lifted three trophies, while also winning the club’s Player of the Year award both times.
His on-pitch relationship with the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar during last campaign was a joy to watch, and with our attacking options having been bolstered over the course of the summer, he believes we will be an even bigger threat this time around.
‘Obviously when you play more with your team-mates you have more of a connection,’ he explained.
‘Last season we had Eden Hazard and Oscar, this season [Kevin] De Bruyne and [Andre] Schurrle, all we need is minutes and I’m sure we’ll find a connection.’
Mata has only had a short time working under his new manager Jose Mourinho, but already believes there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic looking ahead to the new season.
‘We’re really looking forward to starting the season with him and we are all excited about it,’ he said. ‘Jose did a really great job here a few years ago and I think that we can do it again.
‘It’s very good, everyone wants to feel important for the club, I feel it, I’m very happy and enjoying training with the new manager, and I hope I can improve on the last two seasons.’