The signing of Juan Mata has been greeted at Old Trafford, and in the press, as a moment similar to Moses coming down the hill in his Triumph (no, they didn’t have cars in those days) carrying the Ten Commandments.
The Daily Star said today:
Spanish star Mata is being hailed as United’s saviour after joining the champions from Chelsea in a club record £37.1m deal.
And the Mirror had this to say on the subject:
David Moyes says Juan Mata can rescue Manchester United’s crisis-hit season by saving them from the Champions League scrapheap.
I am a great admirer of Juan Mata. On his day he is a player of flair and creativity, who can carve open defences with a pass, who can score goals from long range or can get on the end of crosses and finish well. I think that Mata is a very similar player to Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla, but to me Cazorla is the superior player, in that he is two-footed, while Mata is all left foot and this make him slightly more predictable.
But is he what United need right now and can he turn them into serious title contenders, or is he a luxury player, someone who United could have done without and spent the funds on other positions, where they not only need a better class of player, but where the position could actually be described as needing shoring up.
To me, United need a central midfielder to work alongside Carrick, an experienced Centre-Half to work with the youngsters (and for God’s sake, play Phil Jones in his natural position) and a midfield workhorse, the type of player who’ll run all day for you and gets stuck in and do the dirty work. United could have got all these for £37m. You can say ‘Oh, when this player comes back or when that player is fully fit and if my Auntie had balls she’d be my Uncle’.
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If you look at United today, a major problem is also the ever present ‘Ghost of Christmas Past’, Sir Alex Ferguson. The Daily Express said a couple of days ago:
Sir Alex Ferguson teamed up with former chief executive David Gill to help seal Juan Mata’s transfer from Chelsea.
The former manager has been closely watching his successor David Moyes since leaving the manager’s post in the summer. Ferguson has frequently been seen at Manchester United games and has been happy to have his say on their up-and-down season thus far.
WTF is all that about? No wonder Moyes is a pale shadow of his former self, looking gaunt and wasted and permanently wearing and expression of surprise.
Any other Manager would have banned Ferguson from the club by now and told him that if he wanted to relive past glories – ‘eff off up north and go watch Rangers or Aberdeen!
Moyes is being totally undermined as a manager by Ferguson’s ever present whisky-nose being stuck in his affairs. Compare Moyes this season to last season and the seasons before that when he was at Everton. He was constantly prowling the touchline, snarling and belligerent and goading on his team. Taking no shit from nobody. This season at United he resembles a Bastard Cousin who’s been mistakenly invited to a family re-union. Standing on his own in the corner by the curtains, under sufferance, balancing his cup of tea and bikkie in one hand.
Moyes needs to grow a pair and stamp his authority on the club he’s supposed to be managing, instead of playing the part of Sauron’s Mouthpiece to Ferguson’s Sauron.
The Daily Mail quoted Sir Alex Ferguson as claiming that Manchester United can still win this season’s Barclays Premier League. United are seventh in the table and 14 points behind leaders Arsenal but 72-year-old Sir Alex insisted:
I am not writing anyone off. United are in behind them chasing. United can do anything. They have got that great philosophy and history, they will always do well.
Ferguson went on to say that any of six teams could win the title, leaving Liverpool out of the equation.
United have yet to face Manchester City and Liverpool at home and also have difficult away trips to Arsenal and Everton. Despite this Moyes was upbeat when speaking to the Star. He said –
We’re probably going to have to win all of our remaining games to finish in the top four, but the only way you can start that kind of run is by winning the next one and hopefully Juan can help us do that.
Good luck with that one Davy.
In answer to the question I posed at the start I find that the answer is that Arsenal, along with Chelsea and Man City, have nothing to fear from United catching them and I feel that United would be very lucky to finish in the top four. In fact, as things stand, United would not be my favourites to finish in the top six and if there’s no Europe they will find it hard to attract the better players.
In summery and to quote the feelings of one of my ruder friends, the purchase of Mata is like putting a band-aid on a shotgun wound, the football-ing equivalent of buying your missus a fur coat when what she really needs is a clean pair of knickers.