Jose Mourinho: Why I have Changed My Mind About This Manchester United Star

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, Manchester, September 24. Mourinho believes Juan Mata suits the attacking style of Manchester United. Laurence Griffiths/Getty

A difference in style between Chelsea and Manchester United is behind Jose Mourinho’s volte-face over Juan Mata since arriving at Old Trafford.

Soon after Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2013, Mata was sidelined despite being Chelsea’s player of the year the previous two seasons, and was sold in the January transfer window.

Things appeared ominous for the Spaniard when Mourinho was appointed United boss in the summer, but the Portuguese coach insists Mata’s creativity suits United.

“My project at Chelsea, he was a good player; my project at Manchester United, he is a very good player,” Mourinho said.

“The football we want to play here is different. We are in the beginning of that process. I think [Mata] was very adept to do that with his qualities. We need players with these qualities. He has found a very good natural habitat.”

This has been shown through his performances, scoring in the 3-1 victory over Bournemouth and Saturday’s resounding victory against champions Leicester City.

But Mourinho was keen to stress he did not push Mata out of Stamford Bridge, as this role was not part of his job description.

“I didn’t sell him [at Chelsea] because my job is not to buy and sell,” he clarified. “My job is to coach and my job is to work on the pitch. My job is to advise my boards on the transfer policy. I don’t buy and I don’t sell and I never did.”

United face FC Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League on Thursday night before welcoming Stoke City to Old Trafford on Saturday.