Juan Mata more valuable to Jose Mourinho at Man United than he was at Chelsea
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 28/09/16 8:31pm
Jose Mourinho says Juan Mata is far better suited to his current Manchester United team than the one he had at Chelsea.
Mourinho sold the Spanish playmaker to United in January 2014 for a then club-record £37.1m after dropping the two-time Chelsea Player of the Year from his starting line-up at Stamford Bridge.
Mata has been in and out of the United side under Mourinho this season but was selected ahead of Wayne Rooney in his preferred No 10 role on Saturday against Leicester and excelled in the 4-1 victory.
Mourinho, who denies it was his decision to sell Mata when he was Chelsea boss, says the 28-year-old fits well with the style of play he is attempting to introduce at United.
"First of all, I didn't sell him," Mourinho said. "My job is not to buy and sell. My job is to coach, to work on the pitch and to advise my board about the transfer policy.
"Secondly, it was Juan that asked to leave and when a player asks to leave, I think always you have to think twice.
"And the third point is that my idea for football with the squad and objectives we had at Chelsea is one thing, and the squad I have at Man United and the profile and what I try to do with this club is a completely different situation.
"So Juan at Chelsea in my project was one player, and Juan in my project at Man United is another thing."
After being dropped on Saturday, Rooney was expected to get the opportunity to start against FC Zorya Luhasnk in the Europa League on Thursday at Old Trafford but Mourinho confirmed the England captain is a doubt with a back injury.
Mourinho said: "I was completely convinced of playing him tomorrow. I'm not sure if I do that because with the situation that you create to him I think he really can't afford to have a performance that is not really good.
"I am here to protect him and have to analyse the best thing for him. If he is not totally ready for it, I will discuss that with the medical staff."
Henrikh Mkhitaryan trained with United on Wednesday morning, but Mourinho said he will not be involved on Thursday as he continues his recovery from injury.
Luke Shaw is another who will be unavailable after coming down with an illness, but Mourinho confirmed Anthony Martial is back in contention to feature and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will start up front.
United sit bottom of Group A after losing 1-0 away to Feyenoord in their opening game, while Zorya managed a 1-1 draw with Fenerbahce.
"To be honest, I think we have to win," Mourinho said. "If we don't win, we have four matches and I would say we'd have to win all the last four matches, which is difficult so I think tomorrow is very important that we win the game."