Mata must stop living in the past and work harder, says Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has declared that Juan Mata did not work hard enough to play for Chelsea – and said the midfielder could no longer rely on the fact that he was the club’s player of the year for the past two seasons.
He also rounded on critics, including former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit, who had accused him of having “personal” reasons for dropping Mata, who did not make the 18-man squad for Saturday’s 2-0 win over Fulham.
Of Gullit, Mourinho said: “I think he shouldn’t be a very proud manager for what he did in the last two years.”
The defiance also extended to Mata, with Mourinho adding: “You know, if history plays, because I won two titles here and never lost a game here [at Stamford Bridge] in the Premier League, nobody would criticise me,” he said. “The past is the past. What matters is now. You have to be judged on what you do now. He had a chance to play from the beginning against Aston Villa and Everton, and 35 minutes against Basle.
“The point is I have my options. The thing I love in football is when players prove I’m wrong. If he proves I’m wrong, I will be the Happy One, because I want him to be fantastic. I hope he will.”
Mourinho also expanded on why he preferred to select Oscar – who scored Chelsea’s first goal on Saturday – ahead of Mata for the No 10 position.
“I want to play Mata and Oscar, but Juan has to work and adapt to a certain style of play because I’m not ready to change Oscar’s position,” he said. “Juan has to learn to play the way I want to play, to be more consistent.”
Mourinho also took another swipe at the time afforded to managers such as Arsène Wenger.
“I think my career is made of this, other people have and deserve time, other people cannot win one, two, three, four, five years and they keep having a peaceful life and won’t get any kind of pressure,” he said, neglecting to acknowledge the fact he is employed by a club who do not give managers time.
Mourinho said Mata had reacted well “for the moment” to being dropped and said he and David Luiz – who was also excluded – would start the Capital One Cup tie at Swindon Town on Tuesday.
Chelsea insist they do not want to sell Mata and the player is not pushing to leave. However a host of European clubs, led by Atletico Madrid, Paris St-Germain and Tottenham Hotspur, will test that resolve should he remain a peripheral figure when the January transfer window opens. Mata, 25, also cannot afford to jeopardise his place in Spain’s World Cup squad.