Poll: Will Juan Mata lead Man Utd to a Champions League place?

Juan-MataIn case you’ve been living under a rock the last week, Juan Mata has moved to Manchester United for a deal believed to be worth £37-40million.

What we want to know is….

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The Author

Conor Donnelly

Co-Editor of Back Page Football. Founder of @GAAscores and GAAscores.com.

2 thoughts on “Poll: Will Juan Mata lead Man Utd to a Champions League place?

  1. A lot of United supporters are in for a shock. Jose Mourinho does not get rid of players without good reason. Juan Mata is extremely skillful – great first touch, lovely weight of pass, speed of thought, a great eye for a through ball and a solid finisher. But. It’s a fact that with Mata in the side for the last two seasons, Chelsea finished lower, and more points behind the leaders, than at any time since before the Abramovich era. Two seasons, two lowest positions. Yet how could this be anything to do with Mata, who did so well he was voted player of the year twice in succession?

    Very simple really. The player is a highlights-reel specialist. Show the highlights of a Chelsea win and Mata will feature, with a neat pass, a clever flick or a firm finish. People remember that. They see it enough times and they think it’s the culmination of a game-load of brilliance. But the actuality is very different. You see, Mata plays for ten minutes of each half. The other 70 minutes of the game he is almost invisible. And it’s during that time that his team can lose games – or at least, more games than they should. This is the difference between a great like Zola and a luxury like Mata – neither would ever be described as a tackler or defensive-minded, but Zola would show energy and commitment for 90 minutes. Even with his smaller physique, Zola was stronger and braver than Mata. A loss of points would never be attributable to Zola slacking for the majority of a game. However, that’s not the case with Mata.

    But let’s not compare Mata to an old Chelsea man. Rather, think of Man Utd players like Giggs or Scholes. If they played with the lack of defensive responsibility, challenge and energy shown by Mata, one would undoubtedly say “What’s the matter with them? They must be carrying injuries”.

    Jumping forward, a comparison with other current midfielders shows the likes of Silva, Corzola, Cabaye, Oscar, Modric, Xavi, Iniesta and a host of other current creative midfield players as more committed than Mata and, as a result, providing more sustained skills throughout the duration of every game. Those non-Utd who know Mata’s fear of grazing himself in a tackle will be pleased it is Mata who has gone to Old Trafford rather than any of the aforementioned. Even when Mata stirs himself to trot back into a hotly-contested part of the field, he will do nothing when he gets there. No tackles, no determination. If the ball breaks to him, he has the skill to use it well and sharply, but if it breaks to an opponent, Mata will just watch it go by with not a trace of effort to put things right.
    This is why Mourinho wanted him out. And as far as Mourinho is concerned, he’s passed a problem on to Man. Utd, not a saviour.

    Needless to say, there will be a honeymoon period when Mata’s undoubted skill and vision woos his new audience. But that will soon dissipate if the rest of the team doesn’t cover for his deficiencies. He is a player who allows midfield opponents the same freedom he himself requires, which can be disastrous.

    Mata is not the only out-of-favour Chelsea player who flatters to deceive. Lukaku at Everton is a clumsy beast who is more of a potential Emile Heskey than a Drogba. But again, highlights of games show his power and golalscoring, so everyone believes he is a 90-minute nightmare for any defender. Fact is, the Everton supporters are now cottoning-on to his obvious deficiencies and it’s clear that Mourinho was quite right to farm him out rather than trusting him to lead the line for one of the top teams in the world.

    Mourinho will also be proven right in his ejection of Mata. He knows what he’s doing and United followers will come to see why Mata was allowed to join them without a glimmer of a fight to keep him. Yes, there will be initial excitement as fans initially experience the good side of Mata’s game in United’s colors, but the the whispers will soon follow, as his lack of 90-minute graft and his strong sense of self-preservation become obvious. This isn’t a case of “might be”. It’s a case of “this is how it is”. If Mata’s contributions could be changed for the better, Mourinho would have done it – just as he did with Joe Cole, Robben, even Lampard. But the Chelsea manager weighed up Mata and saw there was nothing that could be done. It’s either take it or leave it and what you see is what you get.

    Apparently, Man Utd like what they see and that’s what they’ve got. Mourinho wanted more.

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