When players begin to get on their phones just minutes after a match, you know something spectacular must have gone their way on the pitch. That was exactly the case for Manchester United’s stars on Saturday. Less than an hour after they convincingly beat Newcastle United 4-1 at St. James Park, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, Dan James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka took on various roles on social media.
Rashford’s response to a tweet by Man United’s official Twitter page which asked fans to rate Juan Mata’s performance, was the one that stood out. The young Englishman hijacked the comments section and, instead of rating Mata, he went a step further to declare the Spaniard the man of the match.
In truth, Rashford’s conviction couldn’t have been further from the truth. Juan Mata has been used sparingly this season, often reduced to appearances in cup games. The Newcastle game was surprisingly his first start in the Premier League in months, but he showed why he deserves to start more often.
Having started on a poor note following an own goal by Luke Shaw, the Red Devils bounced back to win emphatically with goals from Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford sealing a 4-1 victory.
Mata was the creator of Maguire’s goal, delivering a pin-point corner-kick that was met by a towering header from the England defender. Mata may be 32, but he’s still got the magic wand.
He brought calm to Man United’s midfield, created lots of spaces and aided the side’s counter-attacks with defence-splitting passes. The Spaniard was simply unplayable at the St. James Park on Saturday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side has a tough fixture pile coming up, including games against PSG, Chelsea, RB Leipzig and Arsenal. Mata has done enough to start in those games.
His understanding of the game and his telepathy with Fernandes and Rashford could be a canon to hurt opposition defences.
It is equally worthy to note that Juan Mata is Man United’s reigning Player of the Month, which he deservedly won for his performances in the month of September.
Juan Mata has now scored two goals and provided two assists in just three starts this season. Over to you Ole, give the man more game time!Published 18 Oct 2020, 13:32 IST