LONDON (Reuters) - Midfielder Juan Mata believes this can be his best season yet at Chelsea despite starting the season down the pecking order at the west London club.
Chelsea's player of the year for the last two seasons has started just two Premier League games this campaign under new manager Jose Mourinho but put in an impressive display during the 4-0 Champions League win over Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday.
"I'm not the kind of man that gets down. I always believe in myself and train really hard. This is my way to behave, to be positive as much as I can," the 25-year-old fan favourite told the club website (www.chelseafc.com)
"I have really enjoyed playing for this club in the last two seasons. I know what I can give to the team and I'm just trying to do that.
"I try to improve every season, my first and second seasons were fantastic but I want this one to be even better so I will try to improve, score goals, assist and do what I have to do."
Mourinho had previously said that Brazilian Oscar was his preferred choice at number 10 and Mata needed to adapt to the way the Portuguese coach wanted the team to play.
Spain international Mata responded eloquently through his performances on the pitch and earned a place in the starting line-up in Romania after coming on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
He helped the 2012 Champions League winners get their European campaign back on track after the shock 2-1 defeat by Swiss club Basel last month, with a bright display.
"Mata played the number 10 position and the number seven position and he played very good with the ball as he always does, and he is playing very good without the ball like he never did," Mourinho said.
(Writing by Alison Wildey, editing by Ed Osmond)