A lot has been said and written about Juan Mata and the cold treatment he has been receiving from his manager, Jose Mourinho. The Spaniard, who was arguably the best player for Chelsea last season, has been limited to a bit part role by the Portuguese so far, a decision that has not only left the media speculating about the player’s future, critics pondering what-went-wrong but have prompted the loyal fans to question the decision too.
Chelsea were left humiliated by FC Basel, after the visitors earned a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League group stage opener. Mata, who started against Everton, was dropped to the bench and naturally after the defeat the inevitable question has been ringing round. It seems Juan Mata is the root cause of all problems as if Chelsea are losing games, just because he has not been picked.
For that matter, Mata has himself admitted that he struggled with fitness early on with muscle problems. But most importantly, Chelsea have assembled such a rich squad, with an avalanche of attacking players – isn’t it natural that Mourinho would reshuffle his squad every now and then to integrate all his stars?
To me, the central problem lies in the attacking department. Jose clearly said that new striker Samuel Eto’o is lacking in fitness and sharpness while the Portuguese doesn’t seem to trust Fernando Torres or Demba Ba enough.
Sky Sports Pundit and former Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher reflected on this point:
“Virtually every game I’ve seen Chelsea in, they are playing with 10 men. They haven’t got a centre forward, have they?
Even, Mourinho didn’t include a striker against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the starting line-up. Quite naturally, he has no other options rather to keep the faith on his midfielders to score goals. It becomes a huge problem for any side when your central striker is not delivering at all.
Also, there is a lack of proper balance in the defensive front as well. John Terry and Gary Cahill partnership worked very well against Man Utd. Both are similar type of players, who like to drop deep, win the ball aerially and play safe passes. Look at their involvement against Manchester United – all they did was to clear the ball in the air. Simple.
However, when either of them are paired with David Luiz, the problem starts. The Brazilian is a highly gifted player who loves to move with the ball and distribute passes up front. But, he doesn’t track back enough leaving the other centre half exposed.
Obviously, a quality-player like Mata would make a huge difference to any team in the world and probably Jose is hampering the team chemistry by not picking him, but there are other major football-related problems too, which are being overlooked at the moment.