Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho made the unpopular decision to sell the universally-liked playmaker Juan Mata to Manchester United in January - but must have felt vindicated and even a little smug by the end of the 2013/14 campaign.
Mata had his moments at Old Trafford under David Moyes last season but to claim he shone would perhaps be a tad generous, as United finished the Premier League down in seventh place. Although the Spanish star had won Chelsea’s Player of the Year award during the previous two seasons, Mourinho earned praise - somewhat understandably - for selling a player he didn’t want for £37.1 million.
Mourinho: Too hasty for his own good
But it will quickly dawn on Mourinho this season that he was far too hasty in writing off the diminutive left-footed playmaker, who looks destined to enjoy a massive season in the Premier League with the Red Devils.
If his performances on United’s pre-season of America are anything to go by then Mata looks poised to re-establish his status as the best number ten in the Premier League.
The 26-year-old has looked superb playing in his natural position - surprise that, eh? - in behind Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck.
Mata is not, and never has been, an out-and-out winger. And although Moyes pulled off a great bit of business securing his signature at the start of the year, it’s a shame the Scot was clueless when it came to getting the best out of this world-class talent.
Why did Mourinho sell Mata anyway?
Mourinho allowed Mata to join Manchester United for two reasons. First, the Chelsea boss no longer regarded United as a threat - which, in hindsight, was incredibly short-sighted of the experienced Portuguese tactician.
He must have felt that, because of the noises coming out of Old Trafford at the time, Moyes was there to stay - regardless of the extent of the damage come the end of the season.
And secondly, Mourinho believed that Brazil international Oscar was the better choice of playmaker for his system.
Oscar: Not in Mata's class
The 22-year-old, though, performed dreadfully in the second half of the season for Chelsea. From New Years Day until the end of the season, he scored a paltry two goals and provided one pitiful assist.
Even Mata, who was playing in a team badly struggling for form and confidence, finished the second half of last season with six goals and seven assists.
Mourinho even benched Oscar on occasions towards the end of last season because of the South American’s dramatic dip in form. Perhaps if he’d kept Mata at the Bridge, Chelsea might have won pipped Manchester City to the Premier League title. The Blues certainly would have stood a much better chance of lifting the trophy.
Oscar’s disappointing performances for Brazil at the recent World Cup finals must have been another blunt reminder to Mourinho that he made an error selling Mata - particularly to Manchester United - in January.
Watch: Mata in action for Man Utd (sorry, Chelsea fans)
Mourinho looking to Cesc for inspiration
Of course, the Chelsea boss now has Mata’s international teammate Cesc Fabregas at his disposal - and the former Barcelona star is expected to make a big impact with the west London outfit this summer.
But a Chelsea team with Fabregas in behind Mata and Diego Costa in the centre-forward position would have been even more formidable.
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