On the weekend Manchester United broke their transfer record to sign Chelsea’s player of the year for the last two seasons, Juan Mata for £37.1 million. But why would Chelsea sell him to a Premier League rival? Especially a player of Mata’s quality? Mourinho was right in saying that it is a fantastic offer. The funds will also allow Chelsea to bring in new players, having already spending £11 million on Salah and being heavily linked with Southampton’s Luke Shaw. The £37.1 million will also help the club’s finances with Chelsea reporting that they had a loss of £49.4 million, which could be important with UEFA’s financial fair play rules beginning to kick in. There could be a simpler explanation, which is Mata wasn’t playing so Chelsea doesn’t need him.
However only last week, before a bid from United was accepted, Mourinho said that while he understood it was “hard” for Mata to sit on the bench, the Spaniard still had a big role to play for the club. Notice how he says “for” the club and not “at” the club. Perhaps in all his brilliance, Mourinho believed that by selling United a world class player it would not only give United the morale boost and class they needed in the side to push on in the league but, with the fixtures that United have remaining, they could potentially take out Chelsea’s rivals and effectively hand them the Premier League title in Mourinho’s first season back in charge. Manchester United still has to play Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool who are Chelsea’s biggest rivals for the Premier league title. If United were to get a result whether it be a win or a draw it would certainly help Chelsea’s title hopes.
Wenger has come out and questioned the fairness of the January transfer window, and has been quoted saying “Some teams have already played twice against one opponent and others not.” Is this not just an admission of defeat from Wenger? Worried he cannot win the premier league with the squad he has and with the difficult run of fixtures Arsenal have coming up, perhaps by commenting on the Mata transfer and questioning its fairness now, by May time if Arsenal have lost the league to Chelsea he can come back to this moment and point to the Mata transfer as a reason as to why Arsenal did not win the league.
But is the Mata transfer more than Mourinho using United to beat his title rivals? Could it be that Mourinho has a soft spot for Manchester United? Back in 2005 when interviewed by Gary Lineker about whom he wanted to win the FA cup final between Arsenal and Manchester United he picked United. Perhaps he picked United because of the London rivalry between Chelsea and Arsenal or did he pick United because of his admiration for the club? When in charge of Real Madrid last year after their controversial win against Manchester United at Old Trafford, he stated “The best team lost.” I can’t imagine many managers saying after a victory, especially at Old Trafford “The best team lost.” As a fan, we recognise when the better team has lost, but as a manager they all say they deserved that win. But not Mourinho on that day, why? Was he just being honest? Or is it Mourinho’s admiration for Manchester United?
Regardless of whether or not Mourinho has a soft spot for Manchester United, he would not have sold a world class player to a premier league rival without some careful consideration. By strengthening Man Utd’s team, which is also welcoming back Rooney and Van Persie from injury, means that United could become a real threat to Chelsea’s title rivals. If Chelsea continuing winning their games and if Manchester United get results in their key games, the title will go to Chelsea. If this pays off this could be one of Mourinho’s greatest achievements in what has to be considered one of the hardest and most open premier league season to date.