David de Gea treats teammates to dinner at Juan Mata’s restaurant in a team bonding night out after sneaking past League One Rochdale in Carabao Cup.
David de Gea and Juan Mata led their teammates on a bonding night out following their uncomfortable Carabao Cup win over League One Rochdale.
Some of the squad ventured out to Mata’s Tapeo and Wine restaurant in Manchester City center late on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper, De Gea footed the bill.
However, though around 10 players attended, there were notable absentees. Some players were not in the mood. They were mindful of commitments they had made for Thursday’s day off.
Marcos Rojo, Sergio Romero, Ashley Young, Paul Pogba, Phil Jones and Harry Maguire were among those who gave the meal a miss. But still, they remain influential figures in the dressing room.
United has been far from convincing since their start to the Premier League season.
This has also brought Ole Gunner Solskjaer roles as a manager under fresh scrutiny.
The under-performing first-team squad has decided to hold dinner once a month to promote togetherness and voice concerns over any issues.
Solskjaer and assistant Mike Phelan have underlined to their players the importance of individuals taking responsibility. Also, the need to show aptitude to lead on the pitch if they are to handle the mounting pressure on them to improve.
United’s manager and his coaching staff are also keen to see who is mentally strong.
Indeed, there was a degree of psychology at play. It became evident when academy product Axel Tuanzebe was made captain against Rochdale despite making only one previous start this season.
The 21-year-old grew up in Rochdale after moving to England from DR Congo as a four-year-old. He has captained United at every age level before leading the seniors on Wednesday.
But Tuanzebe understands his appointment raised eyebrows in some quarters of the dressing room. He also understands he was not met with universal approval.
Tuanzebe said, “Dreams do come true. I was getting ready to stretch and loosen up when Mike Phelan just came and said to me, ‘Are you ready to go and see the referee?. Come on, you are captain.”
“I had goosebumps as I was walking out. It is something I have been working on for a long time and the moment finally came.”
“I am just grateful to the club and my teammates for sharing this moment with me.”