Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick has heaped plenty of praise onto Juan Mata after his performance against Newcastle yesterday.
The veteran Spanish playmaker hasn’t really been a starter for United in Premier League games for some time now, but he got back into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s XI for yesterday’s 4-1 victory at St James’ Park.
Mata paid back his manager’s faith with a superb performance, and Chadwick feels he’s always shone whenever he’s been given playing time this season.
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“Juan Mata has been up there with their best players in every single game he’s played,” Chadwick told CaughtOffside.
“He adds a new dimension; although not really a runner, his ability to feed balls through, his great understanding with Fernandes to find the spaces … he’ll certainly give Solskjaer food for thought.
“They looked a different team to the one that played Tottenham in the last Premier League fixture. I thought Juan Mata made a huge amount of difference, just giving the ball to players, keeping the ball and allowing the team to stay in possession of the ball for longer periods of time.”
Mata wasn’t the only change we saw from Man Utd, with Solskjaer also changing things around in midfield and moving Marcus Rashford more centrally.
Chadwick was pleased to see Solskjaer changing things around, saying: “I thought the team selection was very brave from Solskjaer, keeping out Paul Pogba, starting Scott McTominay – he was excellent in that position, showed great energy and it was certainly a reaction that the manager will have been absolutely delighted with.
“Marcus Rashford was superb in the number nine position and his pace and movement really stretched the game and gave space for the likes of Mata and Fernandes to play.
“It was a really poor goal conceded early on but the character of the team was fantastic. There were 20 odd shots on goal in the game, some wonderful goals scored as well, albeit three of them coming late in the game. I did think it was a game United deserved to win.
“Solskjaer will have been delighted with Harry Maguire who showed a huge amount of character after being sent off for England and making a bad start to the season, but he looked like a Manchester United captain. His goal was Steve Bruce-esque, another great leader. The goal got the team going and they created numerous chances.”
Chadwick added that one player he’d like to see more of is Donny van de Beek, but he also sees an opportunity for United in the title race due to the poor starts made by their big six rivals so far.
“I was surprised Van de Beek didn’t start yesterday but he had a positive influence when he came on, it would be good to see him get more minutes,” he said.
“Hopefully this is the start of better things to come and positive results moving forward. Solskjaer’s going to need the whole squad to pull together.
“The Premier League is certainly wide open – if they get a run of results together they could be right up there fighting to be top of the league.”