Mata began the game on the bench but after a woeful first half, he was brought on to try and create something for Man United. He took the place of Fellaini, who was frustrating many supporters with his performance in the middle of the park. The Spaniard came on and immediately looked to get United on the front foot but was unable to push the team to get all three points.
Mata’s introduction did seem to make United play better football and certainly added some creativity to the ranks. If Louis van Gaal is willing to play Ander Herrera in a deeper role, it could allow Mata many more starts, something many fans wanted to see.
Mata's lifted the crowd & his teammates. #mufc much quicker in attack since half-time. Darmian injury might intensify search for full-back.
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) January 23, 2016
Who wouldve thought taking Fellaini off, playing Herrera deeper, and bringing on Mata would result in improved attacking football? #WeAllDid
— Tatiana MUFC (@TatianaMUFC) January 23, 2016
Mata has been brilliant since he's come on. He may not be the fastest, but his movement and creativity always makes for a fluid attack.
— Hashbrown (@hesham786) January 23, 2016
Mata making United tick a bit better but I think removing Fellaini has had a bigger impact. The big tree.
— Busby MUFC (@BusbyMUFC) January 23, 2016
Van Gaal must be doing this for banter right? Fellaini starting over Juan Mata? Against a high pressing team? Where ball retention is key???
— Sam Frost (@frosty920) January 23, 2016
Mata on for Fellaini at half-time. Big cheers from the United fans.
— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) January 23, 2016
Mata will hope he did enough in the second half to earn himself a start when United travel to Derby County in the FA Cup on Friday. He has seen his involvement decrease as the season has worn on but with the rest of the team performing poorly as well, it could be the time for him to get an extended run in the side.
The team definitely need to change something if they want to stay within reach of the top four. The performances and results have not been good enough in recent weeks and time is running out for United to get their season back on track.