Mata was famously sold by Mourinho to Man United during his time as Chelsea boss and his appointment as United manager inevitably led to questions over whether he’d do the same thing with Mata when he was in charge at Old Trafford.
A move away never materialised and Mata has since gone on to become one of the most influential players under Mourinho, more than vindicating his decision to keep a player who fans have a real close connection with.
“When I come here people thought that Mata was in trouble,” Mourinho said.
“I knew that he wouldn’t be in trouble because one thing is the football I wanted my Chelsea to play and another thing is the football I want my Manchester United to play and Mata is adapted to the football we want to play.
“So I knew it since the beginning he would be an important player and I think he feels that confidence in me and he feels that confidence in the game we want to try to play, so he’s happy and he’s happy on the pitch and you can see that the way he plays.”
With six goals and two assists in 20 Premier League appearances, including two goals in his last two appearances, Mata has been excellent for United this season as a whole and it’s impossible not to like the Spaniard. Footballers like Mata are rare in modern football – both superb on the pitch and kind off of it. For me, he’s a special breed and that’s what has helped fans bond with him so quickly.
I’m delighted Mourinho has found a place for Mata in his set-up at United because we’re a better footballing side for it and heading into the business end of this season, Mata will no doubt play a crucial role in whether we can finish in the top four as well as the potential for a cup treble.
Looking ahead, Mata wants to return to his native Spain at the tail end of his career but I hope he stays at United for a few more years and we can continue to enjoy watching him play in the red of United.