Juan Mata believes Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has 'changed' and is pleased with his side's recent performances. The Portuguese endured a somewhat stuttering start to life at Old Trafford but nine wins in a row have put the Red Devils within touching distance of the top four and on the cusp of the EFL Cup final.

Mata, who scored the opener for United in their 2-0 EFL Cup semi-final win against Hull City on Tuesday night (10 January), has noticed a difference in the environment at Old Trafford and believes confidence throughout the United squad is on the rise. The Spaniard also said he was currently enjoying his 'best time' at Old Trafford since joining from Chelsea three years ago.

"He (Mourinho) has changed," Mata told The Irish Independent. "It is a different environment, it is a different club and squad. This club has always known that they play one kind of football which is about attacking and creating chances. We are doing that and he is happy with the performances.

"Everyone can see the players are playing with more confidence. He is the same person, with almost the same staff, but what has changed is the environment. It is nine wins in a row now and in terms of results, it's the best I have known at Manchester United. In terms of the confidence and mentality we are showing it is also the best time since I have been here."

Juan Mata and Jose Mourinho
Mata scored in United's 2-0 EFL Cup victory over Hull City on Tuesday night Getty Images

Many expected Mourinho to usher Mata out of United when he took charge of the club last summer but the former Valencia playmaker has dug in and made himself an important part of the former Real Madrid manager's setup at Old Trafford. The 28-year-old has scored seven times and provided two assists in all competitions, including the winner against United's arch rivals Manchester City in the EFL Cup in October.

Both Mata and Mourinho will hope United can extend their winning run to 10 games in all competitions when they host Liverpool on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp's men produced a woeful display in their 1-0 EFL Cup defeat by Southampton on Wednesday and will be looking to get back to winning ways against their bitter foes.