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Jones: “Mata-effect already kicking in”

matautdblgoPhil Jones has claimed that Juan Mata’s arrival has had a positive impact on the Manchester United players, lifting the dressing room morale and delivering a much-needed psychological boost to a team that had endured a catastrophic season up until last week, when the Spaniard was signed.

Mata’s debut against Cardiff on Tuesday coincided with United getting back to winning ways in the Premier League and Jones described the Spaniard’s signing as the sort of exciting news capable of lifting the players’ morale and delivering fresh impetus for the remainder of the season.

“It makes an impact in the dressing-room when you sign a player of that calibre,” said Jones. “He’s such a talented player on the ball.

“He’s definitely lifted spirits in the dressing-room – especially in training.

“We want to impress and show him that we are what we are – one of the best teams to be at.

“He’s come in, done well and I’m sure he’ll be a huge asset for us. He will be a fantastic player for Manchester United, hopefully for many years to come. He sees the pass that sometimes no-one else sees.

“If he continues to make them, I’m sure we’ll soon be climbing the table.”

Despite the 2-0 win over Cardiff, Unite remain six points adrift of Liverpool currently in fourth place, but have closed the gap on Spurs and Everton to three and two points, respectively.

The possibility of missing out on a Champions League spot for the first time in 19 years is all too realistic, but Jones insists United must focus on the short-term future for the time being.

“It’s a positive result but we need to build on it,” said the United centre-back. “There’s no point getting a positive result and not doing that. We’ve won, but we need to build on it.

“It’s a game-by-game situation now. All we can afford to do is look at Saturday. We have Stoke this weekend. We need to go there and win. Then we need to follow that up. We need to maintain a run.

“Daft as it sounds, we try not to take any notice of what’s going on around us and concentrate on improving and getting the things right we needed to address. Slowly but surely, I’m sure we’ll do that and come back stronger than ever.”

With Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney also back in the team after overcoming injury problems, the mood within the United captain is probably as positive as it’s been all season and Jones is determined to make it last.

“Robin has worked hard to get back. We’re delighted to have him, Wazza and Juan. Bar [Maroune] Fellaini and Michael Carrick we’ll hopefully be at full strength on Saturday,” said the former Blackburn man.

“It’s no excuse but when you do miss players of that stature you need to find it elsewhere. I think we’ve done it in certain areas but not in the areas we’d like.

“We’re just delighted to get them back and firing again.”