When Manchester United signed Juan Mata in January of this year I like many other Manchester United fans celebrated this signing like he was the saviour of our season. We had just signed the player that had won the player of year in the previous two seasons at Chelsea. We had just taken what appeared to be one of our rival’s best players. There was clearly a reason why Jose Mourinho was happy to let him go though. He obviously didn’t feel that Mata would could back to hurt them.
Now I’ve been thinking back about Mata winning Chelsea’s player of year for the previous two seasons. I can’t ever remember Mata taking a game by the scruff of its neck and let’s be honest these two seasons were probably two of the poorest in terms of the quality within the Chelsea team in recent years. They had three managers in this time and I can’t really remember a stand out performer for them. Ok they won The Champions League, Fa cup and Europa League during in this time but let’s be honest they had a lot of luck especially in winning The Champions League, I think the most ardent Chelsea fan will admit this.
As soon as Jose Mourinho returned to the club in the summer of 2013, there were a lot of rumours that Mourinho just didn’t fancy Mata in his team. Mata may have even been offered to Manchester United as part of Chelsea’s bid to sign Wayne Rooney. Now I think the main reason why Mourinho didn’t fancy Mata was the fact that he didn’t work hard enough for the team defensively. Instead Mourinho chose to play Oscar in the central playmaker role that Mata had been playing in for most of his time at Chelsea. I believe Oscar not only works hard for the team but he also puts in let’s say those time wasting challenges on the opponents players in their own half. These challenges not only waste time if Chelsea are winning a game but also allow Chelsea to get back into their defensive shape.
When Mata Signed for Manchester United, club legend and sky sports pundit questioned whether Juan Mata would fit in with United’s style of play. He was questioning where Mata was going to play because United traditionally play with two strikers and wide men in midfield. Now for Mata to fit in they would have to this system and probably play one up front and play with a narrow midfield. We’ve seen Mata play on the right and on the left for Manchester United and it’s not worked, he has played centrally at the times but I can count the number of times he has impressed since joining Manchester United on one hand.
When Wayne Rooney was sent off against West Ham it was obvious that Mata would get a chance in the central attacking role and I for one was hoping that Mata would show all us Manchester United fans what he is about. Sadly this hasn’t happened and I for one have been very disappointed with his displays in these matches. I felt Mata was so bad against West Brom that he should have taken at half time if not before. I feel that Mata is too lightweight and he likes to play one-twos which slows down Manchester United’s more traditional direct attacking play, I feel Mata is similar to Berbatov in the fact they both look to play intricate passing football and probably always looking to score the perfect goal.
So I’m sad to say that Juan Mata and Manchester United will never quite fit together perfectly, he is obviously still a very good player and will put in the odd good performance but he won’t be consistent enough to stay at Manchester United in the long-term. Which I’m sad to say because I feel he loves being a Manchester United and totally gets the history of Manchester United would love to be remembered as a great player for the club.