Friday 6 January 2017

Juan Mata must be in contention for our Player of the Season

Since he signed for United in 2014, no one has been involved in more goals and assists than Juan Mata in that timeframe. 

Mata has history with Jose Mourinho but, far from being ostracised by the Portuguese, Mata has quickly become one of this side's most important players. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been brilliant in his first season in England and Eric Bailly has also impressed, but neither have performed consistently as the Spaniard. 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan's resurgence has seen Mata start on the bench in recent weeks, but the playmaker remains our man of the season so far. 

He made the decisive impact at West Ham and has a knack of making the difference at vital moments in tight match situations (think of his 'Juanfield' double, his winning goal against City and the opener against Arsenal this season as perfect examples). 
Mata has six goals for the season now, four short of his tally of ten in both of Louis van Gaal's campaign.

A forward hampered by the rigid restrictions of the Dutchman's system and often isolated on the right flank, it is under the manager who sold him to us that Mata has discovered his best position in this United side. 

Only six players have started more matches than Mata this term, and Mourinho has successfully incorporated him into both his of his formations.
LVG blunted Mata when he reverted to 4-2-3-1 last season, when he was shunted out to the wing and left isolated from the rest of the team's attack. 

Under Mourinho and despite the presence of Mkhitaryan, Mata has been this side's best playmaker. 

In Jose's 4-3-3 system, he's had a creative licence to 'float' in the right central midfield role, where he dovetailed seamlessly with Jesse Lingard, the highlight being the wonderful team move and goal that Mata started and finished against Leicester in September.

An ineffective performance at Palace in the Armenian's absence (marred by an incorrectly disallowed goal) persuaded Mourinho to demote Mata but he was missed from the start against Boro on New Year's Eve.

Michael Carrick was given a breather, and with United searching for a breakthrough, Mata made the decisive difference.
He crossed for Paul Pogba to nod home the winner and then broke the deadlock himself as a half time sub in east London.

When Jose took over, many believed that Mata would be the first player out the door as a consequence of his supposedly strained relationship with Mourinho. 

Those rumours were only heightened when Mata was substituted as a substitute in the Community Shield win over Leicester. 

That Wembley flashpoint aside, the pair's relationship has appeared stronger than ever and Mata has reaped the rewards of Mourinho's man management. 

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