Manchester United must tweak Mata and Januzaj to improve

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Between the disappointment over losing out to Chelsea on the Pedro deal and the ridiculous Neymar fantasy, United fans are feeling angry and bemused.

Despite heavy investment in three top-class new recruits, questions still remain regarding United's midfield. Who to play behind Rooney, to get the best from the Englishman? And, where is the natural right-winger they so badly need?

Ironically, Van Gaal could fix those problems without spending a penny, or drafting in new recruits that might disrupt the team. Instead of bemoaning the fact that his squad lack a world-class star in the class of a Ronaldo, Bale, Messi, or Neymar, why not play Mata in the no.10 role he was born to play?


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In his Chelsea days (used as a second striker), the little Spanish magician was considered by many to be world class.

Although, Mata does an admirable job in the unfamiliar right-wing role (his goals were responsible for United gaining 10 points last season, the most telling contribution of any player in the league, as per Squawka.), it is not his true position.

You will not find the Spaniard hugging the touch-line and providing the perfect cross. As evidenced by the four games he has played this season, Mata is most comfortable drifting in, leaving Darmian tasked with providing the width.

Januzaj is the man Van Gaal has chosen to fulfil the second striker role. He too, has made a decent effort of the job. The problem is Januzaj (despite claiming that no.10 is his best position), is a natural winger.

In the past two games we have seen him frequently pop-up on both the left and right, rather than sitting behind Rooney. While it has offered a slight unpredictability to the United attack, it has meant that Rooney has been forced to drop deeper to get on the ball.

The solution would appear obvious. Switch Januzaj back to the right-wing, where he caused so much excitement in his debut season at the club. And let Mata return to the role through the middle where he can directly influence the game with his clever movement and uncanny passing ability.

If he could replicate his Chelsea form for United, it could mean the difference between fourth place and a real tilt at the title.

The guile of Mata would be the perfect foil to the physicality of Rooney. Both possess great footballing brains and vision, and would be a nightmare for defenders to deal with.

Mata's lack of pace and suspect tracking-back, are no longer a problem with the work-rate of deep-lying central midfielders Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin. He would have licence to roam as he did at Chelsea.

A front trio of Rooney and the exciting talents of Depay and Januzaj, has all the pace and attacking verve United have been crying out for for the past few years. It is difficult to imagine that front-line not scoring on a regular basis. Will we ever get to find out? Only, Louis can answer that one.

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Juan Mata
Premier League
Manchester United

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