Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata reveals why he left Chelsea
In an interview with the Guardian’s Sid Lowe, Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata spoke about his experience with former boss Jose Mourinho and his first few months at Old Trafford.
“I told him [he was my idol] when I arrived,” Mata spoke about Manchester United’s interim manager Ryan Giggs. “And he said to me, joking: ‘I’m really happy you’re here … but I’m a bit sad too. Now I’m only the second best left-footer here’.”
“The first days at a new club are always a bit strange but when you have someone like Ryan saying that it eases things,” he added. “And it really helped that David de Gea was here. He’d been sending messages all week: ‘What’s happening?’ ‘When are you coming?’”
When asked about his departure from Chelsea, Mata admitted that it was a complicated week for him.
“It was a long week. Mentally, it was complicated. It was hard to leave Chelsea and I’ll always be grateful, but at the same time I was joining a great club. I spent virtually the whole time at home with my family, trying to stay calm, waiting, watching time pass, watching films and series, checking the phone. I went to the gym to make sure I didn’t lose shape, because I hardly trained,” he added.
Mata, aged 26, left Chelsea to join Manchester United after mutual consent with Mourinho.
“Lots of team-mates are friends and they call, not to gossip, but to ask how you are, to be by your side. I’m still in touch with people at Chelsea: there are good people in that dressing room, friends for ever. Everything depends on the club more than the player: the quantities, the paperwork.”
“When you’re not playing you don’t always have the opportunity to join a club like Manchester United, prepared to pay a fortune to sign you,” he continued. “It’s hard to find a club that does that, especially for a player who’s not playing. It gives you enormous confidence, to be United’s most expensive player is a big deal and makes me feel I have played well in England. I’m grateful they think so highly of me.”
“There are lots of players who train hard but don’t play and can’t explain why,” Mata on why Chelsea didn’t value him they way United did. “I was put in a situation in which, fortunately, I’d never been before. Perhaps you don’t appreciate that if you always play, so going through it makes you see things differently. That’s a good thing. I learned.”
“I tried to be positive and trained the same as ever. The decision’s nothing to do with the player. All I could do was be professional and be available.”
“No,” he answered when he was asked if he spoke to Mourinho on why he wasn’t given chances. “Because I didn’t consider it opportune. We never talked about that. Nor would we. When I played, I played. He would give me instructions. There are coaches who explain but others who don’t think it’s necessary. That’s all.”