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English Premier League

Should Manchester United Ditch Their £37m Spaniard?



David Moyes spent a then club record £37 million on Spanish playmaker and two time Chelsea player of the year Juan Mata during his horrid spell at United. The fans were calling for Alex Ferguson’s successor’s head, results were poor and the morale of the squad, not to mention that of the fans, was awful. Pressure was on Moyes, whose only signing at the time was £27 million on Belgian flop Marouane Fellaini, to sign someone in the January transfer window.

The Scot did exactly that. It did, however, cause more problems than it solved. As this article will look at the pro’s and con’s of the Mata acquisition. Juan Mata is an absolutely exceptional player, the former Valencia man is so creative and, on his day, influences and dictates games. The Spanish international is one of the most creative players in the Premier League, as reflected by the statistics.

During his time at Chelsea, the club he arrived at in August 2011, the 26 year old picked up an impressive 33 goals and assisted a further 58 in 135 competitive appearances for the Blues. Since arriving at United in January earlier this year, Juan Mata has scored 7 goals and assisted 4 for a mediocre Manchester United side.

The Spaniard is a wonderful footballer, technically astounding as he dribbles in and out of defenders, his ability to not only see the pass that is on that nobody else would see, but to provide an inch perfect, beautifully weighted threaded through ball is inhuman. Mata could offer United so much in terms of creativity, scoring goals and playing the possession rich, exciting football the fans pay to see. There is just one thing stopping him however – his lack of versatility.

As good a footballer as Juan Mata is; and believe me, he is phenomenal, he is very uncomfortable playing outside his favoured position, the hole. Under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Mata was deployed out onto the wing and one of the reasons the Portuguese boss sold the Spanish World Cup winner was due to his lack of defensive willingness. Now at United, Mata has the problem of Wayne Rooney being the number one choice for the number ten role, a position in which both are best utilised.

Only adding more problems to the Spaniard’s list, new boss Louis Van Gaal has splashed the cash on Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, both attacking players. Van Gaal want’s to play a 3-5-2 formation, with no natural wingers, just wing backs, something Di Maria is unaccustomed to and a role the Argentine will unlikely be asked to perform in. The idea is three central defenders, two wing backs, two central midfielder’s and one centre attacking midfielder in behind the two strikers.

It is unlikely Van Gaal will replace Rooney with Mata in the hole, and it is unlikely the Dutch boss will want to leave either big name striker Radamel Falcao or Robin Van Persie on the bench either, ruling out reverting Rooney to his previous role as a striker.

So the problem for Mata is where he stands in the pecking order for the place in behind the two strikers. Well, club captain Rooney is the obvious first choice, and with British transfer record signing Angel Di Maria comfortable in that position as well, Mata looks like he could be set for another spell one the sidelines. The acquisition of Mata was, in my opinion, a panic signing. Moyes was under scrutiny for not spending so he bought a want away world class player without thinking about where he would fit into the team.

Juan Mata was signed to help stop United’s problems, instead, he has become one. As much as Juan Mata would offer Manchester United in terms of creativity, fluidity of passing etc, he makes the squad unbalanced. Given that Mata can not contribute anything from any other position other than the hole, the Spaniard can not fit Van Gaal’s system and I do not see him being a regular starter in this United side.

To sum up, a move away from Old Trafford would be best for everyone. Mata could join a club where he is number one choice for his proffered role, and Van Gaal would have less of a headache selecting his starting XI and keeping his whole squad happy. It is a tough decision, United will not want to lose a player of Mata’s calibre, but what is the point of paying his chunky wages to see him sit on the bench? Drop Rooney or sell Mata? Either way, a decision needs to be made, and fast.

If you were Louis Van Gaal, would you cut your losses with Juan Mata and sell the Spaniard on, or would you find a place for him in the system? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .



Jack Wilshere’s injury shows why Arsenal shouldn’t renew his contract

The 26-year-old has been struck down by yet another injury.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Jack Wilshere will be pleased with the progress that he has made since returning to Arsenal from his loan spell at Bournemouth.

He was initially nothing more than a squad player that was out in the cold at international level too, but the midfielder worked hard to gain more game-time in North London.

Across all competitions, he has played more than 30 matches and his form earned him a call-up to the England squad.

It looked like he was getting a once-promising career back on track, but almost like clockwork, he has suffered an injury to set him back once again.

Gareth Southgate confirmed that he wouldn’t be travelling to the Netherlands for Friday’s match and the quotes were reported by Sky Sports.

“It is not a specific injury and over time they flare up and they need to settle down over a couple of days.

“We are hopeful it will settle down pretty quickly. It’s an ongoing problem and it’s not something new for him. He’s very disappointed not to be involved in the game.

“He’s trained well though but if you think about the journey he’s had in the last two years and his big injuries then he’s progressing really well.”

Although it is encouraging that it isn’t a serious injury, it is a reminder that Jack Wilshere remains a risk for both club and country.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It is difficult to build a team around a player that is susceptible to miss matches and the quote from Southgate is a worry as he refers to an ongoing problem.

Arsenal have had a difficult campaign and they will be planning a rebuild over the next 48 months as they transition away from the Arsene Wenger era.

They will have to make tough decisions on many players at the club and Wilshere’s future will be brought into focus over the next few weeks as his contract expires at the end of the season.

There have been numerous reports regarding contract talks between the two parties and there is hesitancy on both sides.

This latest injury suffered by Wilshere and the comments from Southgate referring to an ongoing problem show why it is Arsenal who need to end this association.

Wilshere can’t be relied on to stay fit and to feature prominently in a busy schedule. Arsenal will have ambitions of challenging at the very top of the game and will likely be involved in European competition every season. They need to have a squad of players that are reliable and the 26-year-old isn’t that.

Aside from that, Wilshere represents what Arsenal have become over the last decade. He is a player that had a lot of potential, but he has failed to fulfil it and been very inconsistent at the highest level. Of course, he isn’t to blame for the club’s problems, but he is also unlikely to offer the solutions.

This season has been a nice farewell campaign for him. It would have been sad if his Gunners’ career had ended after being shipped out on loan to Bournemouth.

He has returned to earn some of his credibility back, but the club need to move on and progress if they are to get back to the top of the English game.

A lot of contentious decisions will need to be made and the first should be the release of Jack Wilshere this summer.

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Manchester United

Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line

The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.

Rob Meech



Luke Shaw
Photo: Getty Images

The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.

Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”

The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.

Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.

From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.

Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.

Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.

(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images)

Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.

This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.

But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.

In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.

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English Premier League

Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week

The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.



Photo: Getty Images

With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.

Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.

In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.

Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.

The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.

Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.

This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.

If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.

Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.

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