Sometimes, we say ‘the gaffer knows best’. We tend to forget that the manager is also a human being. Just as the doctor can sometimes misdiagnose an ailment because different conditions present with similar symptoms and signs, the manager can also make wrong decisions probably out of genuine intentions. Ferguson made a wrong call in the case of Paul Pogba even though he was a manager that was apt and right in most of his decisions.
Faithfuls of the blue end of London totally agreed with Mourinho’s decision to drop Juan Mata because he could not defend. Eleven players are on a team over time and each one has a definite role. If every player was meant to defend, there will be no need to score goals. Saying that an attacking midfielder cannot defend is akin to saying that a goalkeeper cannot score goals. It’s a truism that there are times when the attackers come back to help the team defend probably a set piece or full scale attack. But you definitely won’t require it always of an attacker else there’ll be no need for a central defender or a defensive midfielder.
It may not be frequent but I have seen a couple of times the ability of Mata to retrieve the ball from an opponent, clear the ball from the 18-yard box or block a shot. He has a primary role which he had no difficulty in playing. If Mourinho had been patient with him, he probably would have learnt to imbibe the defensive culture being taught and still keep his creative instincts. This is clearly proven by the fact that Manchester United loyalists complained when Louis van Gaal decided to play Mata on the right wing rather than in his preferred number 10 position. It looked like an attempt in futility but eventually, Mata has delivered 20 goals and 13 assists since arriving at Carrington via helicopter. Against Wolfsburg, he had intimidating passing accuracy of 98%, made the penalty, scored the penalty and designed an artistic no look assist for another revelation called Chris Smalling to score. He did all these playing from the right wing. It therefore begs the question, was it the right decision to bench Mata and eventually sell him to United?
He has demonstrated his willingness to learn and do whatever the gaffer demands of him. His ebullient attitude demonstrated off the pitch is also translated to the turf. Not many players would sacrifice an opportunity to shine with a free to a perceived novice in that specialty but he allowed Andreas Pereira the honors which paid off in the capital one cup tie against Ipswich. He also isn’t found wanting in big games as demonstrated against Liverpool and Manchester city.
It is seemingly turning out to be a case of “Chelsea’s loss, United’s gain”. Juan has proven that he is much more than just a happy Monday blogger reaching out to fans, friends and family. He has proven that he really MATAs.
Juan Mata's stats for Manchester United in the 2015/2016 season so far.
|UEFA Champions League||2||180||1||1||-||-||2||93.8||-||-||7.20|
|EURO Cup Spain||1||N/A||-||N/A||-||-||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||-|
|Total / Average||9||765||5||4||1||0||2.4||90.7||0.1||1||7.37|
|SpG: Shots per game||PS%: Pass success percentage||MotM: Man of the mat|
A medical doctor by profession and a Footie lover