Why Mourinho Was Wrong To Outcast Mata But Chelsea Were Right To Sell Him

Adios Special Juan

Adios Mi Hermano

I was very angry when Juan Mata got sold and I wrote a piece/rant in that anger and depression. It was a bit strong & I said some things which I won’t agree on. So after cooling down, I am revisiting this topic.

Juan Mata, Chelsea’s No. 10.

Players like Juan Mata are one of a kind. To understand his style, his class on the ball, one doesn’t need to look further than the song that Chelsea supporters chanted for the Spanish Maestro – (video)

Juan Mata, my Lord, Juan Mata
Ohh… Juan Mata

The player whose touch is so classy so elegant that it leaves you gushing out of breath, speechless – remembering the name of the Lord.

Playing Style

He is a fox in the box – deadly on the ball, if the ball finds its way to Juan Mata in the box, the fans expected it to roll back into the net – and it did most of the times.

He is deadly from the flanks as well – his deliveries from wide left or wide right are often good and sometimes dead accurate and rise his ever increasing assist count.

If Mata is a bit far from the box, he orchestrates the attack – distributing passes and linking well with others. His eye for a through-ball to the striker or a winger is something that you can’t find only in the most gifted of players (Assist to Demba Ba in the FA Cup replay surely will remain in my mind for some years).

Juan Mata doesn’t stop there, he will drop back deep when the midfield and defenders are having problems to build from the back. Such is his reading of the game. And it doesn’t stop there! He is dead ball artist. From the right, he can curl the ball into the net on either post. One only needs to ask David De Gea that, or even more impressive was the ease with which he put one into the net in the summer friendly against Man City.

This is a repertoire of a playmaker, premiere league style.

Its not like Juan Mata can’t defend but he did have his problems while pressing high athletically like Oscar or Willian does. He is certainly not better than these two in the high tempo rock-n-roll pressing Mourinho is trying to implement. His lack of that extra pace fails him.

So why was Mourinho wrong to undermine him?

Chance Creation

Juan Mata has played 834 minutes in the Premiere League and created 30 chances.

That is 1 chance created every 27.8 minutes.

Oscar creates 1 chance every 56 minutes. Wiliian 1 every 42 minutes. Even Hazard lags behind Mata with a chance created every 37 minutes. Even the assist machine Mesut Ozil is behind Mata with 1 chance created every 29 minutes. [Stats can be verified from Squawka & Whoscored]. This might be even league high.

Distribution
Mata’s passing is ideal to get into a team like Bayern & Barcelona. But retaining the ball can’t hurt any team. His average pass accuracy is 88%. Hazard and Oscar stand at 83 this season Willian is at 85.

Finisher
Mata’s finishing ability is second to none. Willian is not a goal scorer like Juan Mata. This has been apparent many times during the season when he fluffed some good chances and half-chances. His stats speak the same – average is around 5 goals/5 assists per league season and that too in the Ukranian Premiere League.

I am not saying that he can’t improve but why sell a player who is better than him and has the same age.

There is a  misconception that Eden Hazard has more freedom this season to impose himself compared to last season when Mata was freed of his defensive duties under Rafa Benitez as Chelsea defended in 2 banks of 4. As Frank Lampard pointed out in Mourinho’s award ceremony, that Hazard was doing more defensive work than last season [his eagerness of chasing opposition’s fullbacks].

Hazard & Oscar Linkup
This is something I haven’t done any research on and neither I have any stats to back it up. But if you watched Chelsea last season and this season, Hazard & Oscar look a much better when Mata is on the field. The reason can be Mata’s almost telepathic relationship to find the runs of Oscar & Hazard – which immediately increases their goalscoring threat. Although Oscar is the not the same boy anymore who was having his first season in England last year. He is going from strength to strength.

Mazacar was a dream pairing, the three amigos –
Hazard a winger, a showboater, leaving the people drooling in the crowd, cutting on the inside, deadly with the right foot
Oscar in the middle, a hardworker, recovering the ball, pressing high, tactically perfect, constantly on the move
Mata on the right, roaming around pulling the strings, playing 1-2s, playing the last pass before the goals.

Summary

I agreed with the vision of Mourinho – Hazard – Oscar -Mata (on the flank). My only gripe with Mourinho is whether he gave Mata a fair chance? In my opinion, Mata was fighting a battle he had already lost. Mou had his mind made up. The minutes that Mata got was only as a result of his status as the back-to-back Player of the Year. Mou didn’t want another Casillas on his hands.

 

All things said & done, he brings something to the table that no other player at Chelsea does and Mourinho should have tried more to get Mata into the team. His system when it gets perfect has the natural risk of becoming too predictable.

So what were Chelsea to do?

Chelsea had a very good player on the bench who didn’t fit managers vision. The offer was right from financial perspective and they had the strength on the bench knowing winning the title with Mata on the bench was going to be as difficult without Mata. In FA cup & CL, Mata wouldn’t have been selected by Mou in the strongest matches anyways.

The club could have kept him and sold him in summer instead for nearly the same amount. But that would have meant making a class player and a top professional unhappy. The boy who was loved so much and won so much. He deserved better than that and surely the club would have thought about that. It was all about him in the end!

Were we happy to sell to Man Utd? No. But it didn’t matter. Was he happy to go? Yes.

What do you think? Was Juan Mata right to leave, was Mourinho right to undermine him and were the club right to sell?