Had it not been for the surprising arrival of a diminutive, yet incredibly talented, Spaniard, tonight’s Premier League at Old Trafford would have been all about one man and one man only, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returns to the ground where he so often found the net during his playing days.
As Ole returns as a visitor, there are few doubts that he’ll be greeted to a raucous reception for Old Trafford does not forget his heroes – unless they wash up on Merseyside and kiss the Liverpool badge, that is – and the Norwegian, for his dedication to the club first and foremost, deserves a hero welcome.
Juan Mata was today officially unveiled as a Manchester United player, following his first press conference as a Red during which, alongside David Moyes, United’s most expensive ever player revealed that he was excited by the opportunity of joining the champions, despite their dismal season so far.
Mata, who will wear the number 8 shirt following the path of illustrious predecessors such as Paul Ince, Nicky Butt and, ehm, Anderson, admitted he was eager to get going at Manchester United and that the move was “really important” as far as his chances of making Spain’s World Cup squad were concerned.
“Wayne said that we should have pursued Mesut Özil. My reply was that it was none of his business who we should have gone for. I told him it was his job to play and perform,” said Sir Alex Ferguson in his autobiography, as he explains his opinion over Wayne Rooney’s desire to leave Old Trafford in October 2010 when the club, according to Rooney, wasn’t ambitious enough.
How times change. Three and half years on since that day, Rooney has won other two Premier League titles with United, seen the man that had not too subtly told him to mind his business depart, before threatening to leave the club himself, only to become United’s player of the season, so far.
Having done much of the wheeling and dealing over the last couple of days and having invested significant money on Juan Mata and on Wayne Rooney’s new contract – which is close to be finalised – Manchester United have been given a taste of their own medicine as they received a bid for Adnan Januzaj.
The bid, described as “significant” by the Guardian arrives as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Belgian put pen to paper on new five-year deal in October and David Moyes has since reiterated that he will not even consider the opportunity to send Januzaj on loan, let alone selling him.
A picture speaks louder than a thousand words. Juan Mata is a Red!
Followers of football, it is said, have some of the shortest memories around. If the transfer saga involving Juan Mata, who today completed his £37 million move to Manchester United to Chelsea, is anything to go by, they might be getting shorter by the month.
To a certain extent, Chelsea fans can be forgiven for their sluggish recollection ability. Following a slow start under Jose Mourinho, the Stamford Bridge Victory Machine has ground into forebodingly full flow, efficiently churning out win after win after win as the season enters its inevitably tense denouement. They now sit two just two points off the top of the Premier League, having scored as many goals as Arsenal, the competition’s current leader. Mata has hardly featured in this impressive ascent, meaning that for many Chelsea fans, Mourinho’s selection policy has been proved justified.
Juan Mata’s transfer from Chelsea to Manchester United has been met with a mixed reaction, somewhat surprisingly. A substantial proportion of United fans are more than a little skeptical about the move, citing the hefty reported transfer fee of £37million and more pressing concerns in other areas of the side. However, David Moyes has been presented with the rare opportunity to purchase a world-class operator in the mid-season window and has rightly taken it.
From August up until yesterday, pretty much everything involving Manchester United was bad news – abysmal results on the pitch, disgruntled players suffering injuries, disillusioned fans doubting the wisdom of appointing David Moyes as replacement Sir Alex Ferguson and, more crucially, players wanting to leave the club.
The last couple of days, however, seem to have signalled the start of a turnaround as far as the club’s fortunes off the pitch are considered, with the announcement of Juan Mata’s arrival followed by the news that Wayne Rooney is intentioned to extend his contract at Old Trafford.