The Spaniard capped off an excellent performance against Manchester City with a winning goal, sliding home from close range in the 54 minute.
It was initially thought that, upon Mourinho’s arrival in June, Mata’s days at Old Trafford were numbered.
However, speaking on Sky Sports earlier this week, Neville noted how, against the odds, Mata has quickly morphed into a crucial member of the first team.
“He is never injured, he provides a lot of assists, he plays in two or three different positions, and he scores important goals.
“I actually thought he would be the first out of the door when Jose came, but he’s actually becoming one of the most important players.”
Mata’s influence under Mourinho in the Premier League has been nothing short of monumental. In the five games he has started this season, United have won four and drawn one; the other four games, however, have seen United muster just one point.
Such a statistic highlights the Spaniard’s unquestionable importance to United: in a side occasionally guilty of lacking any flowing impetus going forward, Mata is a wonderful asset to have. Everything he does comes with a touch of composure and sophistication, subtly adding precision to attacking movements.
United fans, largely indifferent towards Mata last season, will be desperate to see the 28-year-old – the unlikeliest of good luck charms for Mourinho – receive a run of games in the coming weeks.