Unperturbed by the prevailing opinion of supporters, Jose Mourinho’s lack of faith in Juan Mata forced the midfielder out of Chelsea midway through the 2013/14 campaign, apparently deeming the Spaniard incompatible with his vision of success.
Having secured a third Premier League title for the Blues the very next season, Mourinho will no doubt have felt vindicated in sanctioning Mata’s £38m move to rivals Manchester United.
Now that fate has reunited manager with former charge, however, the time for hatchet burying has arrived.
Reports not long off the press suggest 28-year-old Mata is ‘desperate’ to sign an extension to his current Old Trafford deal due to expire in 2018.
Given the playmaker’s contribution since Mourinho took up his Red Devils post this summer, it seems that the Portuguese tactician would be churlish not to indulge him in the matter.
The former Valencia winger’s second Premier League goal of the season arrived in by far United’s most convincing display of the Special One’s tenure to date, as champions Leicester were dismantled 4-1 last time out.
Free to operate in his natural habitat of 10 with Wayne Rooney taking a rare spot on the bench, it’s no coincidence that Mata was very influential in the victory and that cannot have gone unnoticed.
Although he was famously criticised for his lack of work rate by Mourinho when at Stanford Bridge, according to the Sky Sports’ statistics department the midfielder has learnt from his past mistakes.
Juan Mata covered the most distance [11.34km] against Leicester City. [sky sports]
— ㅤ (@TheUtdReview) September 25, 2016
If Rooney’s omission proved any point, it’s that Mata is the natural fit in the hole because he doesn’t tread on the toes of Paul Pogba behind him.
Having only turned 28 in April, these could yet be the number eight’s best years and his manager should ensure they are in the red of United and not elsewhere as speculation has implied.
Mata has started all four of United’s top-flight wins this season and been left out of the line up for the two defeats.
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