REVEALED: Man United star David de Gea treated team-mates to dinner at Juan Mata’s restaurant in team bonding night out after sneaking past League One Rochdale in Carabao Cup… but Paul Pogba gave it a miss!
Manchester United’s David de Gea and Juan Mata led some of their team mates on a bonding night out following their uncomfortable Carabao Cup win over League One Rochdale on Wednesday evening.
United have been far from convincing in their start to the season with an abject Premier League defeat at West Ham on Sunday lurching them towards crisis and bringing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s role as manager under fresh scrutiny.
The under-performing first team squad have determined they will try to hold a dinner once a month to promote togetherness and voice concerns over any issues.
David de Gea treated Man United team-mates to dinner after Carabao Cup win over Rochdale
After an initial night out in August, some of the squad ventured out to Mata’s Tapeo and Wine restaurant in Manchester city centre late on Wednesday where goalkeeper De Gea, flush following his new £375,000 a week contract, footed the bill.
However, though around 10 players attended, there were notable absentees with some players not in the mood following the nature of their display against Rochdale and others mindful of commitments they’d 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 though they remain influential figures in the dressing room.
Solskjaer and assistant Mike Phelan have underlined to their players the importance of individuals taking responsibility and showing the aptitude to lead on the pitch if they are to handle the mounting pressure on them to improve.
The United players dined out at Juan Mata’s restaurant in Manchester on Wednesday night
Paul Pogba gave the meal a miss despite being an influential figure in United’s dressing room
United’s manager and his coaching staff are also keen to see who is mentally strong enough.
Indeed, there was a degree of psychology at play when academy product Axel Tuanzebe was made captain against Rochdale despite making only one previous start this season.
The 21-year old, who grew up in Rochdale after moving to England from DR Congo as a four-year-old, had captained United at every age level prior to leading the seniors on Wednesday.
But Sportsmail understands his appointment raised eyebrows in some quarters of the dressing room and was not met with universal approval.
United advanced to fourth round of the Carabao Cup after beating Rochdale on penalties
Unperturbed, Solskjaer was mindful of rewarding Tuanzebe after being impressed by his attitude and desire to make an impact since returning from his loan at Aston Villa.
‘Dreams do come true,’ said Tuanzebe. ‘I was literally getting ready to stretch and loosen up and Mike Phelan just came and said to me: “Are you ready to go and see the referee”. I said “what do you mean?” and he said: “Come on you are captain”. So I said “alright, let’s get it”.
‘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 manager and grateful to the club and the players I am playing with for sharing this moment with me.’ Meanwhile, Solskjaer believes that Marcus Rashford could return within two weeks following the groin injury suffered against West Ham last Sunday.
‘He’s not very, very bad,’ Solskjaer told MUTV. ‘We hope to see him before the international break.’
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under heavy scrutiny after United’s unconvincing start to the season