Gary Neville believes Juan Mata could have a huge impact on Manchester United’s results for the remainder of the season.
Jose Mourinho handed Mata a rare start against Liverpool last weekend and the 29-year-old midfielder impressed as United defeated their bitter rivals 2-1 at Old Trafford.
The Spaniard, who has made 19 starts in the Premier League this term, was also a key player as the Red Devils completed a memorable comeback against Crystal Palace in their previous fixture.
With United battling for a top-four finish in the league, as well as silverware in the FA Cup and the Champions League, Neville predicted that Mata will have a major role in how his former side’s campaign pans out.
‘There’s signs in the last two games that there’s a team there and Juan Mata’s become more important to connect the team,’ Neville said on his Sky Sports podcast.
‘It looks like you’ve got [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial, [Romelu] Lukaku but they haven’t got that glue that just knits it together. Mata looks like he might become a very important player.
‘Michael Carrick, [Paul] Pogba has sort of got the ability to connect back to front but Mata certainly has got the composure to hold the ball and allow those players to make their runs so they can get up the pitch and get into a point where they can play one-on-one.
‘They need to be one-on-one. You see with Rashford [against Liverpool], [Alexis] Sanchez, Lukaku.
Get them one-on-one around the edge of the box, they are probably as good as you are going to get.
‘However to get the ball into those situations, as many times as possible with quality, you need someone to put the ball there to them and Mata did really well on Monday night.’