If you’re a Manchester United fan you were probably fairly happy to see the final whistle blown to signal the end of yesterday’s game.
Despite the fact that many had predicted a comfortable victory for Chelsea, given the contrasting circumstances the clubs both find themselves in, that will do little to comfort Red Devils supporters who have every right to be miffed at the performance.
In all honesty, and this coming from a neutral who supports neither side, the result was unsurprising when the two sides are compared man for man. Whereas Jose Mourinho is the puppeteer of a host of world-class players, David Moyes is forced to turn out the dregs of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side who, based on the evidence of this season, aren’t a good enough band to cut it at the highest level anymore.
A simple comparison of the sub benches tells you all you need to know and more. At Moyes’ disposal were the likes of Anders Lindegaard, Ryan Giggs, Chris Smalling, Javier Hernandez, Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher and Shinji Kagawa, whilst his opposite number could call upon Mark Schwarzer, Ashley Cole, John Obi Mikel, Nemanja Matic, Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata. It doesn’t take an expert eye to determine which one had the more favourable selection.
But rather than go on to say how Giggs may be past it, Cleverley unworthy or Kagawa unproven, it’s Mata whose name jumps out from that team-sheet for me.
It’s fair to say the Spaniard has done more than enough to rank amongst the most influential and senior members of the current Chelsea squad, but his hard-work and scintillating form has counted for very little under Mourinho.
Rather than occupying a place as one of the three-pronged attack with Eden Hazard and Oscar, as was commonplace last term, Mata has been ditched in favour of a number of different individuals and his game-time cut to a bare minimum.
Put simply, he is an incredibly talent who is currently being wasted at Stamford Bridge and, though Chelsea doesn't seem like a club to advocate a sale to one of their biggest rivals, United are one of the clubs sniffing around the situation.
Admittedly it is a transfer that would have previously been considered impossible, but now it’s not all too outrageous to suggest that Moyes would be able to prise Mata out from under the nose of Mourinho for the right price. And what a coup that would be.
Though they’ve been linked with an innumerable amount of foreign stars in recent weeks, the reigning Premier League champions aren’t likely to find themselves in with a chance of signing someone who can honestly claim to be better than the 25-year-old.
Not only is Mata versatile to the extent where he is comfortable playing in any role supporting the forwards, but he is experienced at the highest level and proven when it comes to dictating matches where he’s given the opportunity to do so.
Why the Special One doesn’t see him as a decisive piece of his title-challenging puzzle is anyone’s guess, but the benefits he could bring to a waning United squad aren’t exactly difficult to envisage.
He would quite comfortably slot in amongst the current Red Devils midfield and whereas he is struggling to garner any minutes at Stamford Bridge, they would be more than forthcoming in Manchester. This point, in a World Cup year, could be key.
Certain rumours suggest that he could be available for as little as £20million, with Chelsea keen to maximise the chances of themselves luring one Wayne Rooney to west London.
As for that topic of debate I’ll leave it to you to decide the best course of action for Moyes, but the acquisition of Mata would not only give the United boss that shock and awe factor he’s been searching for, but also send out a message that they are more than capable of securing the biggest names in football.