Man United: Juan Mata 'A Panic Buy'? Pull The Other One, Merson
The first few months of this season have been excruciating for United fans everywhere, throwing away the league title, bombing out of the FA Cup, and falling lame in the League Cup when it looked like we would at least get a Wembley day out to look forward to.
However, the start for David Moyes reign was scripted before the tragicomedy events of season even occurred. United fans knew it was more than like that an Everton manager who had won less than zero in his career was highly unlikely to repeat the continued success of the greatest manager of all time.
Of course, when you have a championship winning squad at your disposal, it is easy to be blasé about tales of transition, and what-not, and blindly believe that it is business as usual.
But once again, any United fan worth their salt KNEW that was not the case.
We knew that the squad was about to lose three of its back four to old age and injury – three players who at their peak were world-class footballers. We knew that our midfield was shocking, and that we had won titles in-spite of these players, rather than because of them.
And the one other thing we knew was this: If we received injuries to either Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, or Michael Carrick, that we would be in SERIOUS TROUBLE.
Low and behold, all three got rather injured.
Media pundits, like the bar propping charlatans of Soccer Saturday, were always going to proclaim that United were finished - That losing a games and hitting a bad run of form was going to be because the manager is useless, and that the squad is trash. They want you to believe this because it makes good copy, and it’s easy television – why actually give a constructive and intelligent opinion, when you can say something is [insert expletive here].
Saturday night saw the completion of Juan Mata’s shock transfer to United, described by Paul Merson as ‘a panic buy.’
It is worth noting that pre-Mourinho the thought of Chelsea selling their best player to anyone, let alone a domestic rival, was unthinkable. To capture a player of his excellence can never be called a panic anything.
The events of the past few days has blown away certain mythology about United and Moyes, with it being replaced by even more bizarre opinion from alleged football experts.
Two of the biggest myths were ‘Moyes cannot attract the top players.’ That has now been quashed.
Then we have ‘United will not spend big money in the transfer market.’ £37.1 million is a decent way to answer that, in the first instance.
However, this is now being replaced with: ‘Well, where will Mata play with Rooney in the team?’ (Once again, proclaimed by the tactical deity that is Merson.)
These are real pundits, who get paid real money, posing these questions like they think there is no other system in the world except 4-4-2, and that Mata arriving means that Rooney will either sit on the bench, or end up in midfield.
The answer is simple.
Mata, Rooney and Januzaj will play in a 4-2-3-1 behind Robin van Persie, and every team from Newcastle to the shores of Scilly will be defecating ever so slightly more regularly, when their thoughts turn to playing Manchester United.
Mata’s signing is not just your usual ‘statement of intent’ – a football cliché you hear all of the time. It is United putting their first foot forward under the leadership of a new manager. It is the tangible advent of a brand new era for the club, and one that should be embraced.
If Moyes was in this title race this season, it is more than likely that there would be no Mata-like signing forthcoming, from a bunch of owners who are far more bothered about sponsorship than trophies.
However, the Glazers understand that one thing leads to another, in sports. The current failures need offsetting, and a huge signing will not only appease the fans (for they buy the merchandise that the Glazers and Nike rely upon) but it will show their ambitions to the stock markets and shareholders.
I wonder how many Juan Mata shirts will be sold globally in the first 24 hours after his squad number is announced?
Moyes’ underwhelming start will allow him to rebuild in a manner that is befitting a club the size of Man Utd. This will in the long run benefit him, and give him the chance to succeed on his own terms.
The board of directors will have enjoyed this little media game of snagging one of Spain’s undoubted world-class footballers, with Mata proclaiming: “Chelsea is a top club, but you cannot say no to Manchester United.”
This bit of fun will drive them on to purchase more. It might not be a buyer’s market, but like that bodybuilder who enjoys admiring his rippling muscles in front of the mirror, observing his dynamite package of power and definition, United will be enjoying this incredible event of positive PR.
United are not finished, and they never were. Moyes was always going to get money to spend, but the club was always going to wait to bring in the right type of player – Juan Mata fits that profile. Yes, this season may have been a bitter pill to swallow, but we knew it was going to be hard after losing the greatest manager any of us will ever see in our lifetime.
A strong finish will mean Man Utd will be in the mix for the top four. All that matters now is getting the club’s four attacking wizards all active on a football pitch together (Rooney and Robin are not far away from fitness) and getting them to weave their devastating magic.
In one year’s time we could be looking at a very different scenario to the one we see today – United, fighting and wrestling England’s other big clubs to bring back a 21st title to Old Trafford.
And David Moyes could be looking back 12 months, reflective and grateful, thinking: ‘Thank God my first months in charge were so poor.’