In giving his tactical analysis in regards to the Arsenal v Bayern game, Gary Neville hinted why Juan Mata is no longer part of Jose Mourinho's plans.
Jose Mourinho was clear early in the season what he expected of Juan Mata, that he needed to work harder on the defensive part of his game.
"Juan has to learn to play the way I want to play, to be more consistent. Has to be more participative when the team loses the ball, and I think it is not his fault. It is just a consequence of the way he played in the last few years."
With Oscar his clear first choice number 10, it left Mata having to adapt his game to work hard out wide, but Mourinho soon realised he preferred Willian on the right with Hazard on the left.
While admittedly a little reluctantly letting Mata go, Mourinho would not have done so if he did not believe he had football reasons for doing so as well as trying to be fair to the player, and financial ones considering FFP.
Gary Neville believes Arsenal's match with Bayern yesterday proved why wingers who track back are essential to success, and why Mata was deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea.
Some elements of football will never change! In the biggest matches you cannot carry luxuries in wide areas!Silva when he went wide- Alves— Gary Neville (@GNev2) February 20, 2014
Cazorla and Ozil last night with Lahm and Rafinha! The modern Full backs are wingers they need marking like a forward needs marking!— Gary Neville (@GNev2) February 20, 2014
You can get away with it in some games but the big games NO! What Jose is now getting from his widemen and Heynckes from R&R last year— Gary Neville (@GNev2) February 20, 2014
Is how it has to be! The idea of floating widemen is lovely but too much evidence it costs now v top full backs!— Gary Neville (@GNev2) February 20, 2014
Mata has had a mixed start at United, playing in four games, winning only one. He has three assists to his name, but there is a growing sense David Moyes still does not know his best position.
Mata has been placed out on the wing largely, and this is not a role where he is well suited, which was Jose Mourinho's issue - as it was the only place he could offer him.
United have not had a good record in the 'big games' this season, and if Neville is right - should Moyes continue to play Mata out wide, a player who does not typically track back - thus leaving his full-back exposed, then they may continue to get exposed against the very best.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald