Gary Neville defends Juan Mata after criticism: “Judge him in a few months, not now”

by Sam Peoples

Gary Neville has come to the defence of Juan Mata in the wake of criticism of the Manchester United playmaker.

Mata, who arrived at Old Trafford in January following a high-profile £37.1m switch from Chelsea, was heavily involved in United’s 4-0 defeat of Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, assisting Wayne Rooney‘s goal before slotting home United’s fourth.

Despite his impressive goalscoring return of eight goals in his last ten games, journalists such as Oliver Holt have criticised the Spaniard and claimed he hasn’t yet had the impact at United to warrant his £37.1m price tag.

However, Neville has defended Mata and insisted it is far too early to judge him: “He came in at a difficult time. Now is the time probably to judge him in this new few months.”


The 26-year-old attacker has netted eight goals in his last ten outings for United and is currently joint top-scorer at the club for the new campaign alongside Wayne Rooney, both of whom have netted twice.

Depiste that, Daily Mirror journalist Holt somewhat bizarrely compared Mata’s number of direct assists at United (4) to his spell at Chelsea (27) – a mute point in the context of Mata’s two-and-a-half year spell at Stamford Bridge, compared to only joining United eight months ago.

Neville also took the opportunity to point out that Mata’s eight goals have all come when deployed in the No.10 role. David Moyes came in to criticism for initially employing Mata in wide areas but he has been trusted to play in his more accustomed central role under new manager Louis Van Gaal.

The new Dutch boss has also shown his faith in the Spaniard by selecting him for all four league matches to date and if his form can continue to improve from his QPR performance, he’ll become a very important player for United this season.

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