Juan Mata has opened up about his relationship with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, noting that the Portuguese “understands what this club means.”
Man United signed Mata from Chelsea, managed by Mourinho at the time, back in 2014, and it was thought that further ostracising would come his way once the 54-year-old arrived at Old Trafford.
However, to the surprise of many, the Spaniard has been a fundamental asset for Mourinho this season, claiming nine goals so far.
And Mata, speaking to the BBC, noted that, contrary to popular belief, he never had any personal problems with the Special One.
“You know, sometimes in life and football as well, changes comes. You have to embrace it,” he said.
“When Jose came along, I wasn’t playing lots. I had the chance to go to another great club and it was a good offer for Chelsea as well.”
He was quick to dispel the notion that he fell out with Mourinho, making it clear that he left Chelsea for strictly football-related seasons.
“I think it was a football reason, style, something like this.”
“But no, we didn’t have a personal problem. We are working together now and it is fine.
“I think he understands what this club means. I think that’s very important, to understand the history, the philosophy and what the fans are used to.”
Many simply assumed that Mata would drift away into anonymity upon Mourinho’s arrival. It was thought, above anything, that his failure to secure a place in the side at Stamford Bridge would equate to further failure at United.
But the Spaniard refused to lie down. He knew that he needed to adapt his game, to provide Mourinho with something he could work with – and so he did, adopting a subtle, tidy style of picking up the ball, moving it forward quickly and ghosting into gaps. United fans will want to see Mata continue his spell of quiet dominance at Old Trafford over the coming months.