Manchester United boss David Moyes may be struggling to match the performance heights set by his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson, however, he has inherited a squad requiring a rebuild, perhaps one so extensive that it may only be complete after a number of transfer windows yet the current managerial incumbent at Stretford may well have gone some way in beginning the process by acquiring the talent to build his project around.
Bought from Chelsea for £37.1m in a somewhat shock coup during the mid-season transfer market, Juan Mata has seemingly made an instant impact, creating a hat-trick of assists from his first four appearances in the Premier League for the Red Devils.
While Moyes still needs to address his defensive situation and the senior XI are still light in the middle of the park, if there is one area where the Scotsman is blessed it is in attack, as there are few clubs in world football who could brag a striker as technically adept and accomplished as Robin van Persie, supported by a forward as tireless as Wayne Rooney, with a prospect with as much potential as Adnan Januzaj.
However, despite that, creative attacker Mata is the one who will have the team built around him…
|Player||Pos||Touch / apps||Total Pass / apps||Dribble / apps||Chance / apps||Assist / apps||Apps||Mins|
|Robin van Persie||FW||35.60||20.40||1.67||0.80||0.13||15||1,233|
'He made me feel important and I think that's fundamental when you arrive at such a big club that has made a huge investment in you,' the recent signing explained to Sky Sports, before adding: 'It's nice when the manager tells you "Juan, you're important to the team and we need you on the ball as much as possible" and that's what I try to do.'
As demonstrated in the table above, while Michael Carrick enjoys the most touches on the football on a per game average, the creative play is not largely funneled through him, but Mata, who provides over three chances for his team each time he plays, far surpassing the previous best set by Wayne Rooney. It is also Mata who creates the most assists on average, while the touch and pass statistics returned by Januzaj and van Persie pale in comparison the Spaniard.
If Moyes is to build his team around Mata, though, he will get the most effective version if he is deployed centrally in the '3' of a 4-2-3-1, rather than on the left.
image: © Paolo Camera