EPL: Jose's well in control of this Mata

EPL: Jose's well in control of this Mata

Jose Mourinho has been roundly criticised for giving Juan Mata the cold shoulder.

The Chelsea manager has taken brickbats from the likes of Ruud Gullit and Jamie Redknapp, to name a few pundits, who think he's wrong to outcast the Spanish playmaker.

But I think Mourinho's right. What is happening now has got nothing to do with Mata's ability.

I'm a huge fan of the Spaniard and I think, on the ball, he is as good as anyone in the Chelsea squad. The 20 goals he scored last term, and the fact he was named in the Premier League's team of the season, underscores what a talent he is.

Off the ball, though, he's a different story. The lad just doesn't chase back.

Mata was brilliant for Chelsea in the past two seasons but that was because the team were centred around him and he had free rein to do whatever he wanted on the pitch.

I've watched Mata from when he was playing for the Spain Under-21 team and he really doesn't do a lot of defending without the ball.

It's not entirely his fault he's not used to doing the dirty work, since at his previous teams he was never asked to chase back and tackle.

I reckon, from the age of 10, he has been singled out as a special player because of his talent and players around him have been made to graft. Skilful players falling out of favour with managers is nothing new.

Look at Glenn Hoddle.

He was a star at Tottenham Hotspur but did not play anywhere near as many games as he should have for England - he only made 53 international appearances.

That's because the England managers at the time, Ron Greenwood and Bobby Robson, knew he couldn't do the ugly things well.

Anyone who knows Mourinho knows he's all about the team as a unit and having a collective work ethic. He doesn't like taking chances.

He knows that in the Premier League, if you have slackers in your team, you can be found out.

That's why the Special One seems to favour the likes of Oscar, Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Andre Schurrle.

These are players who mix flair with industry. Look at Oscar's performance in the 2-0 win over Fulham last Saturday. He did a lot of things on the ball, but without it, he worked as hard as anyone on that pitch in closing people down and harrying opponents off the ball. He even popped up with a goal.

The fact the Brazilian ran a remarkable 11.2km in last week's Champions League game against Basel shows why he's Mourinho's golden boy at the moment, and publicly singled out as the manager's ideal "No. 10" at Chelsea.

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