Juan Mata was left out of Chelsea’s squad for the West London derby against Fulham and has been the subject of much debate as Jose Mourinho has demanded something more from him, but how will the Spaniard react to his manager’s words?
There are a few schools of thought when it comes to Mata’s situation as many are bemused by his omission, others can see Mourinho has a point but argue he is still one of our best players and must play, whilst there are those that go out of their way to pick faults in the player in order to justify the fact he’s been left out even though Mourinho hasn’t really done so himself, he’s just challenging him to adapt to his vision.
He does have a point as Mata doesn’t really do as much as Oscar and Eden Hazard do off the ball, but I’d argue he does a lot more with it and I’d like to see us stick with him as part of a developing system, or how else is he supposed to develop the other side of his game?
I also think Mourinho’s point is generally misunderstood as he’s already bemoaned the fact that when his attacking midfielders are receiving they are all too often with their back to goal, so are generally less effective and Hazard seems to be defending on the left a lot more than Ashley Cole is these days. Surely Jose eventually wants his attacking players to press and defend in the opposition half as a unit, a little like Barcelona did so successfully under Pep Guardiola (he’d never use this comparison himself though, of course).
According to the Daily Star, a source close to Mata has reacted well to what Mourinho has said and wants to ‘knuckle down and try harder’ which is what you’d expect from a player that loves the club, the city and one of my followers on Twitter observed that Mata celebrates every goal as if it was his first.
If he presses effectively when given the chance, put his foot in and commits to the 50/50s then Mourinho won’t really have an excuse not to play him and it would really test the media’s theory that he already made his mind up that he doesn’t like him, which Mourinho denies.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the journos are wrong and Mata will prove to everyone that he’s still the best player in the team.