With the news that Juan Mata completed his £37 million move to Manchester United from Chelsea, fans of the champions finally have something to really cheer about for the first time since their impressive victory over Arsenal.
Despite a reasonably good resurgence of results in the EPL prior to United’s 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge last weekend, performances have remained for the most part mediocre at best.
Crashing out of both the FA Cup and League Cup in the same small stretch of time has seen a lot of stalwart United fans begin to slowly lose their patience with the 20-times champions of England.
The fans' complaints have not been aided by the continual injury concerns that have kept the Red Devils' talisman players, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, out of action for the best part of two-and-a-half months as a collective unit.
The pairing haven’t started a game together for United since the aforementioned victory over Arsenal on Nov. 10. As if that weren't bad enough, for the past few weeks neither player has even so much as featured on the United bench. The team have gone down to four defeats in six matches in all competitions (effectively five defeats if you take the second-leg League Cup tie’s eventual outcome into account).
Now sitting a whopping six points off fourth spot in the table, serious change was required at Old Trafford if things were going to get at all better. Thankfully for David Moyes and co., that change has arrived in the form of the Spanish playmaker.
While Mata is not going to carry United anywhere near the top of the table this season, his arrival at the club gives the team a solid chance of usurping Everton, Spurs and Liverpool to the fourth and final Champions League position.
There have been mixed reviews over the transfer during the course of the move, with some citing it as one of the best pieces of business the club have done since signing Cristiano Ronaldo and others slating it as a panic buy made out of desperation.
I feel both are bordering on the hyperbolic and absurd at their own particular ends of the spectrum. While Mata may not bring what Ronaldo did to the table, writing off a player of his immense quality—let’s not forget that he has been voted Cheslea’s Player of the Year for the past two years—as an act of desperation is simply foolish.
Mata is only 25 years old and has a long time to earn back that £37 million for the club. While perhaps it is too late to really make a difference (at least in regard to silverware) this season at Old Trafford, going forward Mata could cement his name in United folklore.
Assuming injuries subside, we could in a month’s time see a team including RvP, Rooney and Mata—not to mention the likes of Adnan Januzaj—lining up for the champions.
Yes, this transfer does nothing to solve the defensive issues the club are currently experiencing, but one step at a time.
With United slowly ebbing away from their nearest rivals this season, it was imperative that David Moyes made a signing in January to show the world that Manchester United are still just as big a club as ever and that this season was merely a blip in their long and illustrious history.
Mata’s arrival goes a long way to making that statement to the world.
The press and opposing fans have had an absolute field day...well, more of a “field season” with United thus far this year. Let’s face it: Nobody likes it when the same team wins everything and, naturally, when they start to lose there is going to be a lot of pent-up, passive-aggressive rage taken out on them.
Juan Mata lining up in a United shirt is strong retort to all of those doubters and critics of the Moyes era. The club has broken their record transfer deal in order to show the world that they are still real contenders in the global game.
Now all we can do is wait and see how the Spaniard performs in his first game for the club. Will Mata have a real impact at United? It would take a foolhardy observer to rule it out.