By the time Juan Mata fully settles into this United side, orchestrating the play and dictating passes mere mortals can’t see, we will, hopefully, all look back to tonight and break a polite, almost embarrassed smile, at how low-key the Spaniard’s debut in a Manchester United shirt was.
That is not to say that United’s record signing disappointed in his first outing for his new club, but to classify tonight as a “dream debut” would be to get carried away too soon and too quickly.
When a player joins a new football club, the words that’s mentioned more often is “opportunity”.
Everything, from the new manager, to new team-mates to a new environment and fans is portrayed to offer the new arrival with a wonderful chance to revitalise his career, prove his former manager wrong, develop into a world class player or a bit of both, depending who the footballer in question might be.
The signing of Juan Mata could prove to be a key factor in our challenge for top 4. My initial thought was “He is not the player we need”
As a versatile attacking midfielder, it’s clear that he has demonstrated at Chelsea he is at his best in behind the striker, with right midfield being his other position. To me, Wayne Rooney is a better a No. 10 than Juan Mata is. As for right midfield, despite Antonio Valencia underperforming this season he offers an incredible amount of pace, a trait Mata does not appear to have in mass.
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!