Juan Mata's influence under Jose Mourinho and at Man United compared

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It was always going to be interesting to see how Jose Mourinho would use Juan Mata at Manchester United after it was the Portuguese who found him surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.

And Man United fans were immediately concerned after the Spaniard was substituted just 27 minutes after coming on in Mourinho's first competitive game in charge, during the Community Shield.

The boss' explanation: Mata was the shortest player in the team and Mourinho was fearful of high balls being chucked into the box towards Leicester's big men in the final few minutes.

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan came on and United won the game - so surely his decision was vindicated, right?

Not all fans and pundits saw it that way and judged it as a very early hint that Mata could find his playing time more limited this season but more worryingly, that his time at Old Trafford could be coming to an end.

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After all, that was what drove Mata out of Stamford Bridge in 2014 and there is the general consensus that the Spaniard will not be Mourinho's first choice once again.

However, after taking a closer look at Mata's key statistics under Mourinho at Chelsea and comparing them with his influence at Old Trafford last season, there has been a notable difference that has gone under the radar.

Out of the 13 appearances Mata made in his final campaign at Chelsea, he played the full 90 minutes just twice.

Hull City v Chelsea - Premier League

He was still able to create 30 chances, at a rate of 2.3 per game, and pick up two assists.

At Man United, he has become a fan favourite and played some part in all 38 Premier League matches last season.

Surprisingly, he created 53 scoring opportunities, at a rate of 1.6 per game, with five assists.

Mata was even making more key passes at his old side (2.15 every game under Mourinho vs 1.6 for the Red Devils)

He can claim to have scored six goals last term, compared to a frustrating zero in his final six months at his previous club, but the fact he is now creating fewer chances might set one or two alarm bells ringing.

Manchester United v Crystal Palace - The Emirates FA Cup Final

If anything, though, it should actually make United supporters even more excited about Mourinho's reign.

Louis van Gaal's slow and patient style actually blunted Mata's effectiveness more than most of us thought. Much like the rest of the squad, the previous regime stifled the 28-year-old's creative influence.

The added toil of playing in the Europa League means Mata will inevitably get opportunities this season. Both he and United fans might have to be patient but in Mourinho's quicker and more direct Old Trafford outfit, Mata should find more space to dictate proceedings.

Writing off Mata at this stage would be far too premature. The Spaniard has been United's most creative player since he arrived at the club and for a good reason. On his day, he is still a game changer for Jose Mourinho and Man United.

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Wayne Rooney
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Premier League
Juan Mata
Manchester United
Jose Mourinho

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