No it is not a joke folks, Jose Mourinho has admitted that he has been impressed by Juan Mata. According to the Portuguese manager’s comments in his post match press conference following the Blues 1-1 draw with Tottenham on Saturday Sep. 28, 2013, he was happy to see Mata, “tell him,” he wants to play:
“This is the way players have to tell me they want to be in my team.
I sometimes make a mistake as a manager, but I make my decisions on what I see in training and on the pitch. I liked what Mata did against Swindon in the Capital One Cup and I put him on the bench today.
Now I like what I see when he plays for 45 minutes. I’m a very happy manager when I see Juan Mata playing like this. I can tell you now that he will play against Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League on Tuesday — he deserves that chance. I want my players to tell me they want to play. Juan told me that.”
In a start to a new career at Chelsea, Mourinho has baffled fans and neutrals of the Blues alike with is apparent chastising of Spanish star Juan Mata by keeping the 2011-12 and 2012-13 club Player of the Year sidelined of even out of the selected 18 altogether multiple times.
So far the bearded maestro has averaged 16 goals and 24 assists per season with the club, but I guess he has never really shown any type of desire to be in the first team…
With the Blues trailing 1-0 against Tottenham on Saturday morning, Mourinho turned to Mata for the first time this season to truly be a difference maker as he subbed him on for John Mikel Obi at the start of the second half.
While the pundits praised Mourinho for getting his, “tactics,” right in the second half, had he started with Mata in the first place maybe they would have been right from the beginning.
Chelsea’s front six of Frank Lampard, Ramires, Mikel Obi, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Fernando Torres made little sense as Ramires spent most of his time trying to push out wide right rather than build through the middle as he is more effective and accustomed to.
Oscar and Hazard were decent at trying to create on the left, but without a skilled player to spread the game wide right and stretch Tottenham, Spurs had it easy and should have punished Chelsea more than just once.
The introduction of Mata changed the formation of the side to a normal 4-2-3-1 allowing Torres more space as the Spaniard and Hazard created width out on both flanks rather than the Blues playing a cagey and centralized attack.
Changing the formation also saw Ramires kept more central alongside of Lampard and the free space that Spurs no. 10 Christian Eriksen had exploited in the first half was no longer there for his taking and saw Tottenham’s attack greatly stifled.
Mata would be the man of the hour as he scored what he thought was the equalizer only to have it overturned for offside, but quickly turned provider with a well placed free kick that was struck by John Terry and brought the Blues level.
The Spaniard could have potentially done even more had a poor dismissal of Torres with ten minutes left to play not caused Chelsea to have to stop pushing for a winner and go into damage control mode.
Has Mata proven he has the talent and desire to play for Chelsea, well yes of course he has, multiple times over. What Mourinho seems to be acting as though he is seeing for the first time is something that Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez all saw in Mata before at Chelsea and exploited to great effect.
However, Mourinho is the, “Special,” wait I mean, “Happy One,” and I guess keeping Mata out of the picture was all part of his master plan to make sure the 25-year-old would truly get to top form this season.
Or perhaps the Portuguese was taking a page out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s book with a David Beckham style, “no one player is bigger than the club,” type of treatment for Mata.
Whatever the case, the versatile attacker is at least guaranteed his chance against Steaua Bucharest in mid-week to continue to prove he is actually worth pulling on a Chelsea kit.
Thomas is the Managing Editor of SWOL.co, follow him @socceratz and on Facebook.