When Jose Mourinho was appointed Manchester United manager, it was presumed by many that Juan Mata would be the first player to leave. Mourinho had previously sold Mata to United when he was manager of Chelsea.
However, by contrast, Mata has thrived this season and even replaced captain Wayne Rooney in the no.10 position in the 4-1 win over Leicester last weekend. Mata now has two goals and one assist, meaning only Zlatan Ibrahimovic has contributed to more goals than the Spaniard this season.
Mourinho has claimed that while Mata was good at Chelsea, he’s even better at United.
There are big differences. In Man United I have no players to play transitional football as the main objective. We are not so physically strong and compact like we [Chelsea] were playing in a defensive block when we won the title in 2014/15.
We [United] are in the beginning of that process, but the football we want to play here is different and I think it is very adapted to his [Mata’s] qualities. We need players with his qualities, so I think he found a very good natural habitat for his football to play with us.
My idea of football with the squad I had at Chelsea and the objectives we had at Chelsea is one thing but the football I want to play at Man United, the profile of my squad and what I want to try to do in this club is a completely different situation. So I think Juan in my project at Chelsea was a good player and in my project at Man United he is a very good player.