Jose Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea hasn’t gone on to the best of starts. His forwards are inconsistent, his defensive midfielders are old, and it seems like Petr Cech is finally showing his age.
Mourinho – in typical Special One fashion – has even marginalized his best player, Spanish midfielder Juan Mata.
“I’m not ready to ask Oscar to track opposing full-backs. Brazil has more talented players in the No10 position than any other country in the world, and he plays there for the national team, so I want to build with Oscar as my No10,” said Jose in September. I’m not arguing against Oscar as a 10 – he’s a good player and could develop under Mourinho to be one of the best. Right now, though? He is no Juan Mata.
The numbers bear this out, too. Oscar is actually providing Chelsea with less of a creative output. His 14 chances created scores highly amongst the Blues’ ranks, but he finds himself behind Hazard’s standout sum of 22, while Ramires and Mata both have 15 to their name.
Mata has only played 382 minutes so his passing accuracy of 89% (higher than anyone but John Obi Mikel’s 91%) is skewed due to the lack of playing time, but it is again, better than Oscar’s 82%.
What would make this interesting is if Oscar misses some time due to injury. Would Mata start then? One of the reasons Oscar found himself in the no 10 role is because Juan Mata was injured at the start of the season. Would Mata go back to his more traditional role if the same thing happens to Oscar? I highly doubt it.
Mourinho is extremely stubborn and he won’t like to admit his mistakes (his comments post Newcastle loss notwithstanding) so he would probably field anyone but Mata for fear that HIS Chelsea fare better when the player he marginalized is on the pitch.
This isn’t new. His tenure at Madrid saw him do this to Iker Casillas. He benched San Iker in favor of Antonio Adan, who was then replaced – after a string of bad performances – by Diego Lopez. (Lopez is still the main man between the posts for Madrid even after Mourinho left so he might have been on to something there.)
Jose wants Mata to adapt his role. That will help Mata in the long run for sure. Mata might become a better player – a more diverse player, certainly – under Mourinho. He might become a very good wing, too.
But I don’t know if Chelsea will be the place this fruit comes to bear.