Juan Mata is playing at a good level again after a very difficult start of the season when he struggled to get playing time. The Spaniard playmaker was told by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho to adapt to the team’s new style and Mata did that brilliantly.
Mourinho had called out Mata on adapting to the team’s new style and “transform a few things in his game” suggesting that the Spaniard midfielder had to do more defensive work. For many, this was the end of Mata’s spell at Stamford Bridge but the former Valencia player is not a man to give up as he says it “I will try to improve, score goals, assist and do what I have to do. I’m not the kind of man that gets down”. Indeed, he didn’t get down. He worked hard and earned his place back on the team.
Mata has been Chelsea’s player of the season twice in a row after his arrival from Valencia in 2011 but didn’t begin the season as a starter. Being on the bench when Chelsea played Manchester United and Bayern Munich was surely very tough to accept but the former Valencia player has always had a great attitude and kept working very hard in training according to his teammates. “If you are not playing, and we have all been there, you have to stay and train well, keep the right attitude. Juan has done that” Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s vice-captain said about Mata.
The turning point of Juan Mata’s (and maybe Chelsea’s) season came on September 28 when Chelsea played Tottenham. Mata was once again on the bench and watched his teammates being dominated by Spurs. “The Blues” were very lucky to be down by only one goal at half time when Mourinho decided to bring Mata on. The Spaniard midfielder not only provided an assist to John Terry but with him on the field, Chelsea were able to keep the ball better, dictate the tempo of the game and create a lot more chances than they did when he was on the bench. His great technique, vision, close control and ability to dribble opponents lifted Chelsea who came pretty close to winning the game at times. After the game, his manager Jose Mourinho hailed him saying that he liked very much what he saw. Since then, Mata has started every game for Chelsea proving that his place was on the field, not on the bench.
Juan Mata took time to adapt to Jose Mourinho way of playing but he brilliantly did so. When left on the bench, he showed great character and kept working hard to earn his place back on the team. His performances since his return in the starting XI have been fantastic and have reminded the world that he still is a world-class player.