Juan Mata has the chance to prove Mourinho wrong at Man Utd

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Football News

If Jose Mourinho has had one unmitigated success since his return to English football and Chelsea over the summer, it's been his attempt to twist the narrative around Juan Mata to suit his needs.

The Spaniard is a truly fantastic player, and has certainly been one of the most exciting to watch in the Premier League since he joined Chelsea from Valencia in 2011.

Let's just run down a few stats. Only David Silva has claimed more assists than Mata over the past three seasons. He's created more assists over the last three seasons than any other Manchester United player. He's been Chelsea's player of the season twice.

Yet you wouldn't know that was the case if you were new to football. Mourinho has been able to convince most observers that his defensive contribution isn't enough. That he doesn't tackle enough. That he shirks his share of the work load.

The 'Special One' has done a pretty good job too. Just the other day, Sunday Times journalists' Duncan Castles and Jonathan Northcroft exchanged stats on Twitter which highlighted the Spaniard's slovenliness. 

Mata makes a challenge every 59.6 minutes he plays. Oscar, the man who took his place, every 24.6. Mata has made two clearances, Oscar 11, so the conversation went.

Two high-profile opinion makers in the game were talking about what he can't do, rather than what he can. Success for Mourinho.

If that's what Chelsea and Mourinho think, and want others to think, then fine. Manchester United are the real benefactors, and having announced a club record £37 million deal for the playmaker, can finally glimpse a small ray of light in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era that has been somewhat gloomy under David Moyes.

To suggest Mata doesn't warrant a place in a title-chasing club like Chelsea because he doesn't track beck often enough is to moan that your Lamborghini keeps on getting stuck when you go off-road. It just doesn't make sense. 

It's disingenuous to highlight Mata's fault in such a way, just as it is to suggest that Gary Cahill isn't chipping in with enough goals. Wanting a bit more effort is fine enough but to prioritise it over his ability to create chances - at which he is amongst the finest in the league - is to miss the point entirely.

At best, it's just peculiar and at worst, it hints at a deeper-lying problem between Mata and Mourinho.

Not that Manchester United fans will care much about that any more. Chelsea have sold them their best player over the last two seasons, and for the first time since Sir Fergie departed there is reason to smile at Old Trafford.

Whether he can kick-start a change of fortunes, or whether one man alone can drag an entire team kicking and screaming above mediocrity is up for debate and will be answered in time.  

There are questions to be asked about Wayne Rooney's future as well as Shinji Kagawa's. Some will wonder what sort of shape Manchester United will now take with the diminutive Spaniard pulling the strings. Some even worried where he would fit in (as if it was a problem they, as a team struggling to make the top four, could do without).

For now, Manchester United fans and football fans in general can look forward to seeing the Spaniard strut his stuff around the Theatre of Dreams. And they can look forward to watching him do what he does best; letting his talent flourish and be the creative hub the Red Devils so desperately need. You won't find many querying his tackle-per-game ratio around Manchester, that's for sure.

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Premier League
Manchester United
Juan Mata

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