Juan Mata must have wondered about his Manchester United future when Jose Mourinho walked through the doors at Old Trafford.
His sense of deja-vu must have been in overdrive as he was subbed off by his manager during the Community Shield, his boss had just hauled him off despite him only appearing as a sub in the first place.
This was the same Jose Mourinho that had given Mata the boot at Chelsea, despite the Spaniard winning the club’s player of the year title two years in a row.
The two seemingly couldn’t co-exist and it appeared that Mata would have to make do with a move to either Atletico Madrid or Everton.
But Juan stuck it out and showed a hunger to do well for Man United. His willingness to adapt and work for the team has been rewarded by Jose, who has given the attacking midfielder plenty of game time.
Now while plenty of observers will talk up the performances of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Henrikh Mkhitaryan, they often overlook the abilities of Mata.
The Spanish maestro is doing a fine job on the right-wing or in the hole behind Zlatan. He provides a calmness in the side, which can be helpful if some of those around him are going full pelt all the time.
No one in the United squad has been able to better his 90% passing success rate. He also has the gift of seeing moves before they develop, so he can make fine through balls or start exciting counter attacks. His vision to create things and his ability to pick out a passes are great qualities in a set-piece taker.
Mata has made twenty league appearances out of twenty-five so far this term, it shows that Jose and Juan have been able to work together. Mourinho will appreciate Mata’s versatility and ability to keep possession.
But the most important thing for the United boss has been his midfielders desire to work for the team and adapt.
‘Mata has adapted to the football I want to play. I knew since the beginning he would be an important player,’
The creative star has also helped his side’s cause by netting six times in the league. He’s also a player for the bigger games as he’s demonstrated in the past against the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool.
Mata’s ability to find space is his biggest asset to the side, in my opinion. He has a great footballing brain that allows him to move out pf position and interchange seamlessly with other creative forces like Pogba or Mkhitaryan, that fluidity bamboozles defences and creates openings for the team.
Mata has proven a lot of his doubters wrong, none more so than his current manager, but are we actually watching the final chapter at Old Trafford?
It will be interesting to see what happens to Manchester United this summer. You’ve got to imagine that Jose Mourinho will want to add to his squad.
The arrival of French forward Antoine Greizmann could happen this summer if reports are to be believed. If the Atletico man were to arrive then that would cast doubts over the futures of Mata as well as club captain Wayne Rooney. I think one would have to go and it might be easier to offload the Spaniard.
Juan Mata certainly deserves a lot of plaudits for his desire and performances this term. He faced up to perceived adversity and managed to keep his place in the Man United team.
Whether he stays beyond the summer is the next big question that will to be addressed.
Posted on February 14th, 2017 by scott
Filed under: Article