Manchester United's move for Mata looks utterly pointless

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Exasperated Manchester United fans will be desperately searching for answers after today's 3-0 humiliation at the hands of bitter rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford, the clearest indication yet that the balance of power has shifted in the North West this season.

One aspect of the dreadful display which particularly disappointed was a non-existent supply line for lone front man Robin van Persie, with United managing just a single shot on target in 90 minutes at the Theatre of Dreams.

United boss David Moyes spent a whopping £37.1m on midfield maestro Juan Mata to bring creative spark to a side lacking a cutting edge in the final third at times during a difficult first half of the campaign, so why was the Spanish international not capable of contributing a killer pass when it really mattered earlier today?

On the surface Mata's passing stats don't appear to show any glaring flaw that needs instant attention, completing 91% of his 55 attempts to find a team-mate.

Mata only managed to create three chances all afternoon though, struggling to stamp his mark on the game in a wide role that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was dead set against allowing the ex-Blues star to occupy.

The 25-year-old was supposed to be on the left flank but drifted inside at every possible opportunity, which begs the question why can't Moyes find a central position for his club-record signing?

Moyes went for an attacking line-up against Liverpool, with Wayne Rooney, Mata and Adnan Januzaj all given the freedom to support Van Persie, while Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick sat deeper.

The Liverpool match made it very clear though that tactically that decision was naive, providing the Premier League's most prolific attack too much space to cause problems on a massive pitch at Old Trafford.

Mata's position is the most stark example of that tactical mishap, a player who thrives off being able to distribute the ball with alarming accuracy in congested central areas.

As the inquest begins into what went wrong for United against the Reds, and this season, there needs to be some very serious questions about the wisdom of using a central playmaker out wide moving forward.

Moyes needs to find a way for Rooney and Mata to both be comfortable in a system with identity and purpose for United to improve quickly, and that should definitely mean moving the Spanish schemer off the wing.

Defensive deficiencies will be plastered all over tomorrow's back pages and rightly so, but the way Mata is being managed should also be put under the microscope.

A certain Mr. Shinji Kagawa could tell Mata a thing or two about not being played in his favoured position, in a United career which is threatening to fall well short of expectations and end prematurely.

It's time for Moyes to find a way for all his atttacking players to function, or the beleaguered boss could well fall on his sword next season and Mata have a tale of woe similar to Kagawa's.

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Juan Mata
Manchester United
Premier League

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