Upton Park not only witnessed their last ever FA Cup game yesterday night but it may also have witnessed the end of Juan Mata’s Manchester United career as well.
The Spaniard was given benched against West Ham for the FA Cup quarter final replay against West Ham, and not surprisingly there was a new dimension to United’s play going forward. United ended up winning the game 2-1 and played their best football in a long time.
Louis Van Gaal opted to play a 4-3-3 system against The Hammers and decided to use youngsters Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford’s pace and agility in attack.
Throughout the season, Mata has been used from the right wing which has not helped Manchester United or Mata himself. His lack of pace slows United’s attack and his limited defensive work allows opponents to get at Man United’s defense.
Ideally, Mata should play in the hole behind the strikers which is looking unlikely at present and until that happens we may not see Mata play at his best. United’s managerial position is still uncertain with constant Jose Mourinho rumours ghosting Old Trafford.
One thing is certain, whoever is in charge at United next season will find very hard to play Mata in their starting XI. Former Chelsea man may be a fan-favorite at the club but he is not contributing to team’s cause at present and there isn’t a certainty of a drastic improvement in coming weeks either.
Somehow, Mata’s abilities and Manchester United’s needs are contrastively different at present and it is signaling towards a certain exit for the Spaniard next season. Mata has indeed given his best playing from the right wing and trying to adapt, but unfortunately that has not been good enough and he may be forced to say goodbye to Old Trafford next season.
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