Juan Mata was a surprise omission from the Chelsea squad for the home match against Fulham. He was deemed not good enough for a place even on the bench by manager José Mourinho. It sparked a lot of reaction amongst Chelsea supporters, who found it difficult to comprehend that the ‘Player of the Year‘ for the last two seasons was not even able to be on the bench.
Mourinho spoke before the game that Mata needed to adjust to the new style of play at Chelsea if he is to play regularly.
VIDEO: Scroll down for Mourinho’s opinions on Mata
He has now explained in detail Mata’s omission, what he needs to do to get back into the team, and some tactical insight. He has also confirmed that Mata will start against Swindon Town in the midweek League Cup match.
Speaking to Skysports, Mourinho said:
“The evolution of the team is that I want Oscar and Mata to play together. I want that but for that (to happen) one has to adapt and to work to a certain way of play because I am not ready to change Oscar’s position.”
Mourinho has already said that Oscar is his No 10 in the team. Now that he is not prepared to change Oscar’s position, Mata would have to settle for a place on the wings. Eden Hazard plays on the left, but so far, the midfield trio behind the striker (in the 4-2-3-1 formation) have all been very fluid enough to rotate positions throughout the 90 minutes.
Mata played in the wings under Andre Villas-Boas, but he was moved to a central position – to great success – by Roberto di Matteo. Rafa Benitez did not change this either, and it seems that Mata’s insistence to play in a central role is causing the problems.
“Juan has to learn to play the way I want to play. He has to be more consistent, has to participate more when the team loses the ball. It’s not his fault, it’s just the consequence of the way he has played in the last years,” Jose added.
Mourinho has been indirectly critical of Chelsea’s style of play under Benitez and this is yet another testament to this fact. In the last two years of watching Mata at Chelsea, I would confidently say that he is very good at tracking back. In fact, he is better than the likes of Eden Hazard in this respect. Hence, it is a little bemusing to find that Mourinho demands even more from the Spaniard.
Jose explained his tactics by saying,
“Oscar as a number 10 is a player that gives us creativity, but at the same time when we press up, Oscar is a runner, a player capable of pressing. We have our ideas and we stick with our ideas.”
Either way, Mata will get an opportunity against Swindon. It is time for him to prove that he is one of the best players at Chelsea.