Lots of things were out of Jose Mourinho‘s control against Burnley like Zlatan Ibrahimovic not being able to hit a barn door, Tom Heaton having the game of his life and Mark Clattenburg’s woeful refereeing performance. For all our frustrations, none of that had anything to do with Mourinho’s decisions.
Juan Mata's game by numbers vs. Burnley:
100% pass accuracy
100% tackles won
7 chances created
6 shots pic.twitter.com/gOl9gL8MPt
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 29, 2016
Mata was in sparkling form wearing the captain’s armband. Creating chances for fun and almost scoring himself on more than one occasion, Mata was our stand-out attacking player against Burnley and I’ve still not come up with a logical decision as to why Mata was subbed.
Ander Herrera‘s inexplicable red card certainly meant United had to switch it up but taking off our best player for Marouane Fellaini? That’s just not logical. It will come as no surprise to anybody to learn that United didn’t have a shot on target after Mata was taken off and that makes it all the more frustrating – why on earth would Mourinho take off the heartbeat of our attack when we were looking so dangerous going forward?
Take off Marcus Rashford who was ineffective stationed out on the left. Take off Jesse Lingard who wasn’t influencing the game anywhere near as much as Mata. Take off Ibrahimovic whose finishing was woeful in the game, but not Mata. Not our best player.
It had nothing to do with making United more defensively sound because Burnley were about as dangerous as a newborn kitten, rarely creeping over the half-way line before they recreated the Maginot Line every time United bombed forward. So, it just looked like a tactical decision by Mourinho to take off Mata and hope Fellaini and Rooney changed the game – they didn’t, and we all knew they wouldn’t.
Mourinho’s got lots of work to do with this United team because we’re quickly dropping out of the title race with every dropped point but there were lots of positives to take from a game which saw United have the most shots we’ve had in a Premier League game since 2003 and yes, there were so many things out of his control against Burnley. However, that decision to take Mata off killed our momentum and for an astute manager I honestly can’t understand why he came to that conclusion.