Manchester United’s second string crashed out of the Carabao Cup at home to West Ham this evening, but one player who can hold his head up high is veteran midfielder Juan Mata.
As Statman Dave notes, ‘Juan Mata created 3 chances vs. West Ham, more than any other player managed in the 62 minutes he played.
Came the closest to scoring too.’
Juan Mata created 3 chances vs. West Ham, more than any other player managed in the 62 minutes he played.
Came the closest to scoring too. 🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/5sEYqBm9Zo
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 22, 2021
Many eyebrows were raised when Mata was awarded a new contract in the summer as he played few minutes last season.
And whilst this was the Spaniard’s first meaningful action of 2021/22, he acquitted himself well, showing intelligence and endeavour where those around him looked self-conscious and static.
Mata’s effort that crashed against the bar was the closest United came to scoring in the game despite an incredible 27 shots on goal.
Many of those shots were desperate long hopes from outside the box and lacked the guile and creativity that Mata attempted to bring to the game.
The 33 year old still has plenty of energy in the tank but now lacks the yard of pace that used to see him able to slip past some tackles and get on the end of crosses with his well-timed runs into the box.
With United now out of this tournament and needing to field a strong side in the Champions League after last week’s defeat to Young Boys, it is unlikely that Mata will get many more opportunities to impress this season.
Starts are more likely to be given to Jesse Lingard, despite the 28-year-old showing nothing of the football brain that the Spaniard possesses.
Lingard was given the number 10 position today and Mata was put out on the right wing, but in truth United might have been better served if those roles had been reversed.