Chelsea’s loss is most definitely United’s gain. One thing that cannot be argued is that United have signed Chelsea’s best performer over the last 2 complete seasons. The mood at Stamford Bridge is one of regret at letting such a mercurial talent leave at all, selling him to a direct rival seems insane.
For the first time in my lifetime United seem to be on their knees. You have a manager who is not up to the standard, you have players like Cleverley, Jones and Evra regularly getting games when players of equal talent in past sides would’ve been moved on at a rapid pace and you have discontent in the Stretford End about the ownership of the club.
The team that has dominated club football since my birth are finally taking a tumble and the chump with the ‘NOT ARROGANT JUST BETTER’ flag has had to pop up to his attic and find a nice dry spot for it.
Perfect? Not according to Chelsea Football Club. Roman Abramovich is clearly not an advocate of the ‘kick them while they are down’ paradigm. In your moment of crisis he has supplied you with a talent that if managed correctly has the minerals not only to rejuvenate your season, but resurrect the entire club.
In Mata you have signed a player capable of scoring out of nothing, taking a game by the scruff of the neck and successfully playing a pass that other gifted players can only dream of even seeing.
You have also signed a wonderful man. I am sure many United fans cry out in physical pain when Ashley Young gives a post match interview in a snapback hat and Beats By Dre headphones. Ashley! You are representing United on the global stage, dress like a fucking adult. Well Mata does. He shops on Savile Row, he wears Fred Perry and Comme Des Garcons collaborations and he lives in Central London. You are more likely to find him in an underground bar in Shoreditch listening to an unsigned indie act than you are stumbling out of Mahiki with a scantily clad blonde on his arm. He gets Chelsea. He gets the Kings Road. He knows all about Peter Osgood. He has a picture of our ground (dog track and car park included) on his wall. He goes bonkers when he scores against Tottenham. He gets it and we loved him for it and for these reasons many wish him well.
Well not me…
I think that this move has revealed something about Mata that perhaps he didn’t even know about himself. He is a bottle job. When things were rosy he couldn’t get enough of the Kings Road. When he was player of the year he kissed the badge with more passion than he kisses his Mrs. When we were switching the words to ‘Viva Espana’ to ‘Viva Juan Mata’ he beamed like a schoolboy scoring his first goal in front of his father and saluted the fans with that clenched right fist that indicated the happiest of days.
However, when he is not the first name on the team sheet, when he is asked to fight for his place, when he is asked to adapt his game for the good of the team, he has quite simply got on his bike for pastures new. I thought he had more about him. Andre Villas-Boas was bought into Chelsea with the remit of shaking up the old guard. Frank Lampard looked to be on his way out. He got on with it fought for his place and at the end of that season captained Chelsea to European glory. He could have adopted Juan’s approach to life and joined the LA Cosmics or whatever they are called. He didn’t though. He fought on and is still playing well today.
On some level I wish Mata well, I felt an affinity towards him that I haven’t felt to a player for a very long time. Overall though, I feel let down, I think he has taken the easy option. Going to be United’s best midfielder when their midfield is at its weakest point for years isn’t an achievement. Guiding United into the top 4 isn’t really an achievement. Winning your place back at Chelsea despite all their riches in that department would have been superb but it was a fight the boy wasn’t up for.
Seems to me like he has thrown an awful lot away all for the hope of sitting on Spain’s bench in Brazil.