Sunday 30 April 2017

Jose Mourinho has changed from the manager I knew at Chelsea - Juan Mata

Spaniard insists United's tradition of attack has made manager different to the one he knew at Stamford Bridge

Manchester United's midfielder Juan Mata Picture: AFP/Getty
Manchester United's midfielder Juan Mata Picture: AFP/Getty

Tim Rich

There were several reservations about Jose Mourinho when he arrived at Old Trafford and chief among them was that he did not understand how to play 'the United way'. This was a man who 'parked buses' and whose trademark score was the 1-0 win. There were plenty who believed Mourinho would win silverware but plenty who were anxious as to how he would go about it.

However, Juan Mata, who played under Mourinho at both Chelsea and Manchester United, argued that coming to Old Trafford had changed the way Mourinho thought about football. "He has changed," Mata said. "It is a different environment, it is a different club and squad. This club has always known that they play one kind of football which is about attacking and creating chances. We are doing that and he is happy with the performances.

"Everyone can see the players are playing with more confidence. He is the same person, with almost the same staff, but what has changed is the environment."

When Mourinho's appointment was announced, Mata must have felt a sense of dread. This was, after all, the man who had allowed him to leave Chelsea.

This season, however, Mata is more certain of his place against Liverpool on Sunday than either Anthony Martial or Wayne Rooney.

"It is nine wins is a row now and in terms of results, it's the best I have known at Manchester United," said Mata. "In terms of the confidence and mentality we are showing it is also the best time since I have been here."

That is not quite the resounding vote of confidence it sounds. Mata's transfer to Manchester United, arriving by helicopter to meet David Moyes, coincided with one of the roughest periods in the club's history. Three months later, Moyes, who had managed to lose a League Cup semi-final to Sunderland, was gone. Louis van Gaal was not noticeably much of an improvement.

"We have won the FA Cup and the Community Shield but when you are at a club like this you expect to fight for everything," said Mata.

"When I came it was after Sir Alex Ferguson, who was the most successful manager in the club's history, so it was not easy. But we feel we are getting there." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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