Juan Mata could well be the key for Manchester United under Jose Mourinho, despite the former Chelsea player being in and out of games under the United boss.
Gary Neville thinks Manchester United have looked much better in the last game and a half with Juan Mata on the field, and that he could be the missing link where the side have struggled this season – and at times looked as though some players don’t know what to do, and the others were getting in the way of each other.
He told The Gary Neville Podcast: “There’s signs in the last two games that there’s a team there and Juan Mata’s become more important to connect the team.
“It looks like you’ve got [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial, [Romelu] Lukaku but they haven’t got that glue that just knits it together
“Mata looks like he might become a very important player.
“Michael Carrick, [Paul] Pogba has sort of got the ability to connect back to front but Mata certainly has got the composure to hold the ball and allow those players to make their runs so they can get up the pitch and get into a point where they can play one-on-one.
“They need to be one-on-one. You see with Rashford [against Liverpool], [Alexis] Sanchez, Lukaku.
“Get them one-on-one around the edge of the box, they are probably as good as you are going to get.
“However to get the ball into those situations, as many times as possible with quality, you need someone to put the ball there to them and Mata did really well on Monday night.
“I thought he changed the game, many people said Rashford did. But I thought Mata played equally as big a role and today he’s done well off the right-hand side.”
Mata is a former player of Mourinho’s, who he knows and sold – and another is Romelu Lukaku, who has been an ever present for the side this season since joining the club, with Mourinho defending him time and time again after he was criticised by some.
However, in the latest games, Lukaku finally looks as though he’s putting to bed criticism of not being a big game player, and that he seems to be finally living up to what United fans felt he would be upon signing for the club.