It’s well known now that David Moyes hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations since he left Everton to manage 20-time Premier League giants Manchester United – granted, he had a tough act to follow in Sir Alex Ferguson, but almost everyone agrees that he’s not doing well. Now 7th place in the standings wouldn’t be all that bad for most teams, but with Manchester United you have a team that has been a contender since the beginning of the Premier League.
Now we’re heading towards the end of the second transfer window, there’s been one player who’s stuck out like a sore thumb from the rest – Spanish international Juan Manuel Mata García. Mata is an established attacking midfielder, renowned for his playmaking vision and goal scoring ability. The reason he’s on the move is that under José Mourinho’s Chelsea squad, Mata hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to play – he’s only played a full match 3 times this season, which is below what a player of his standard should be playing.
In March 2007, Valencia CF signed a young Juan Mata from Real Madrid – Mata had played extensively in Madrid’s junior and reserve sides before joining Ronald Koeman’s side in Valencia. Due to a constantly injured Vicente Rodríguez and disputes between Koeman and Miguel Ángel Angulo, Mata managed to play his way into the starting eleven, becoming an undisputed starter as his career there went on. During his first season, his outstanding play earned him the ‘Best Young Player’ award. During his next three seasons, Mata would develop his passing game, become very efficient and he rivalled the best in La Liga – he remained consistent goal scoring wise and was a heralded player before his move to Chelsea. Mata took on an assisting role in the Chelsea side, creating chances for many goals – his own scoring was not prolific by any means, but an added bonus.
On the 24th of January, Mata was transferred to Manchester United for £37.1 million – his impact proved immediate as he assisted in a goal in a 2-0 victory over Cardiff City.
Currently, Manchester United’s style of play will unlikely move them very far up the standings – David Moyes is predictable in the sense that he attacks down the wings far too often, and whilst it works sometimes, it doesn’t always lead to good chances. United are gunning down the wings and trying to rocket the ball into the box with a cross, not allowing for a flowing attack to take shape. Juan Mata can change this, along with hopeful Adnan Januzaj – both, but more-so Mata, can place passes where they like, creating chances left and right. For the past few seasons, Mata has been near the top in terms of having the most assists. This addition of fluency would greatly help a stuttering United side.
Mata would also bring much need creativity and flair to a Manchester United side which has little of either. Furthermore, his play should impact the other players on the squad, hopefully improving confidence (and in turn their play). Bringing an almost calming mood, it was quite evident that players enjoy playing with him. I think this particularly the case with both Shinji Kagawa and Adan Januzaj. Kagawa has been, undoubtedly, a disappointment for fans and pundits alike, and although many say that Mata’s signing might end the Japanese’s chance of becoming a better player, I believe it could bring out the best in him since there would be plenty of opportunity for the intricate, exciting style of play he enjoys. With Januzaj, his rise to stardom has undoubtedly put pressure on him to become the team’s next big thing (although that may be from being the Manchester United system), Mata will likely allow the youngster to relax more and play more like himself – Moyes was almost insane to rely on Januzaj to provide all the creative spark in the side.
It’s clear David Moyes is going to have a tough time for the rest of the season, and filling the gaping hole left by Paul Scholes after retiring is clear to see – Mata may be the catalyst that pushes Manchester United into that next gear required to reach the Champions League positions. A tall order for the Spaniard, who will try to orchestrate the offense to make up the 6 point gap between them and Liverpool who sit at 4th in the standings. Mata said he welcomed the challenge, and wanted to overcome the pressure of being Manchester United’s biggest signing yet.
“He’s very classy. I think he’s a player that stays in the fans’ hearts and also in those of his colleagues…. he won important trophies and people loved him”. “He is a top kid and a very good professional” - José Mourinho, Chelsea FC Manager
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZnRP_AcBi4 – ‘Juan Mata 2013 – Blue Magic | HD’