Unsung hero praised for making “massive difference” to Man United in win over Brentford

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Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata has earned praise for the impact he had in last night’s 3-0 win over Brentford in the club’s last home game of the season.

The veteran Spaniard performed well in a rare start for Man Utd, and many fans may well be left wondering why they haven’t seen more of him in recent times.

Speaking exclusively to CaughtOffside, former Red Devils ace Luke Chadwick certainly enjoyed Mata’s performance, suggesting his presence in the team generally improved the way Ralf Rangnick’s side played.

“It was a much-improved performance, certainly in possession. United kept the ball well for large spells, put together some nice passages of play. I thought Juan Mata starting made a massive difference. The way he plays, he keeps the ball ticking, and gets into clever areas,” Chadwick said.

Juan Mata in action for Manchester United

“Overall there was a lot more intent, more structure. Brentford had their moments, particularly with Christian Eriksen spreading the ball around, but I felt United were on top for the majority of the game. It was good to see at the last game of the season at Old Trafford, it was a much better performance and left us with something to feel more positive about ahead of next season.”

Mata is about to be out of contract at United this summer, and Chadwick admits there’s a slight sense that he’s under-achieved in his time in Manchester.

Still, Chadwick also admitted that Mata has been one of a number of top players to struggle in this slightly confusing time at the club, where there’s often been a lack of a clear direction and philosophy in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.

“Mata’s been a great servant to the club, but he came in at a difficult time,” Chadwick said. “He joined under David Moyes, not long after Marouane Fellaini, which kind of summed up that the club didn’t really know what direction they were going in at that time. They were two very different players, suited for vastly contrasted styles of play.

“Obviously he’s a fantastically gifted player, but he’s never quite found a role in the team. I think he’s a great character to have around, he seems hugely popular with his team-mates and the fans. Still, he’s maybe not hit the heights we would’ve expected after seeing him at Chelsea. He had a great reputation at Valencia too, and obviously he’s done it for Spain as well.

“He’s kind of in the mould of David Silva, even if he never quite hit those heights. He can hold his head high, he just wasn’t really at the club at the right time.”

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