Mata was used in a central position behind Van Persie in his debut against Cardiff last night and was always eager to have the ball at his feet. He made a lot of intelligent runs that weren’t picked up by his team-mates and it was a sign of things to come.
However, Moyes is keen to get the Rooney and Van Persie partnership firing on all cylinders again which could see Mata played away from a central position.
Speaking after the game, Moyes said: “I can play him in any role. Left or right allows me to keep the Robin & Wayne partnership. I’m quite comfortable with that.”
Although the thought of playing Mata wide might irk some people, it isn’t going to be a similar situation to Shinji Kagawa in the slightest.
If Mata does play out wide left or right, it will be as an inverted winger and he would be given the freedom to drift inside whenever he wanted to because that is where his strengths lie. It wouldn’t be a hindrance on his ability to influence the game.
In fact, you could almost see Moyes playing a dynamic front three of Januzaj, Rooney and Mata behind Van Persie where all three regularly chop and change positions. That way you’d give all three an element of unpredictability in their game. Mata being down on the left wing as a position on paper wouldn’t stop him from playing centrally and interchanging.
Mata’s arrival may be the prelude for United moving away from traditional wingers and Moyes’ indication he is happy to use Mata in a wide position certainly suggests that may be the case.
Moyes was also full of praise for Mata on his debut and admitted he was looking forward to seeing him in full flow.
He said: “I thought Juan played very well. He made some terrific passes for us, got us on the ball, gave us a different look at times and he will grow.
“We will get used to him more as well. I was a bit worried about his overall match fitness but when we got to 2-0, I thought the longer we keep him on the better and we will hopefully get him up to speed quickly.
“He was close to making us a couple of goals in the early part of the game with his passing and I think everybody knows what he is capable of. I think when we are in full flow, when we are playing as well as we can then I think he will be a big help for us all.”