Several eyebrows were raised from Juan Mata’s camp when Jose Mourinho was announced as the Manchester United manager in the summer. After all, the Portuguese was the manager who decided to part company with the Spaniard when he was at Chelsea – despite Mata having been Chelsea’s best player in his time before Mourinho.
Mata was expected to be sold in the summer due to this reason, but it was not necessarily the case. The 28-year-old featured in the first team now and then, and he appeared to be relatively relaxed about the situation.
Now, Mata his starting to have an impact on the Manchester United first-team. Jose Mourinho has categorically denied rumours that he was looking to sell the 28-year-old when he took charge in the summer. One of the major criticisms of the Portuguese manager is that he does not provide a look in for players that he does not favour initially. Players like Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger are clearly quality names, but the former has been forced to leave the club due to lack of opportunities while the latter is expected to do the same in the coming summer.
“When I come here people thought that Mata was in trouble. Mourinho said, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News
I knew that he wouldn’t be in trouble because one thing is the football I wanted my Chelsea to play and another thing is the football I want my Manchester United to play and Mata is adapted to the football we want to play.”
Mata showed his value by scoring in the 2-0 win over Watford during the weekend. This was the ninth goal of the campaign for the former Valencia and Chelsea winger. He looks certainly on course to beating his tally of 13 goals set last season under the regime of Louis Van Gaal. The 28-year-old has primarily been used as a right-winger. During his time at Chelsea, Mourinho frequently criticised Mata for failing to provide defensive strength to the team while playing as a winger.
The goal by the former Chelsea player was extremely important for United, as it helped them take advantage of Tottenham dropping points. Interestingly, Mourinho has always held that he chose to sell Mata only because he did not fit into his system at Chelsea. During his three years at the club, the player had incredible statistics. He was a major factor in the club lifting titles like the Europa League and Champions League. These were the best times for the club in European competition.
Since his move to Manchester United, Mata has won the FA Cup. This season, however, United seem to be in a great position to challenge for different titles. The club are still in four different competitions if it is still believed that they have an opportunity in the Premier league. Mata has a contract with United until the summer of 2018, but he was constantly linked with a move elsewhere even in January.