Van Gaal presses same urge as Mourinho on £37m attacker

Mata Chelsea Free Kick

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho criticised Juan Mata's defensive work before selling him to Manchester United.

Juan Mata has had an impressive start to pre-season under Louis van Gaal, topped off by his goal against Liverpool in the ICC tournament final.

The manager's fluid formation suits Mata more than almost any other player, and he is being started in his preferred number 10 position.

The Spaniard praised his new boss when speaking to ManUtd.com after the 3-1 win over their rivals, but was keen to add that he does not have a free role, and is being tasked to undertake defensive duties too.

He said: "I feel good and I feel comfortable in this position. I have to do what the manager wants me to do, both offensively and defensively, and I am trying to do that. It can be a good position for me to try to perform to my best."

His words are significant, because his former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho made it known that his frustration with Mata was due to a perceived lack of defensive work.

That situation was slightly different, Mourinho played Oscar as his number 10, and wanted Mata to play out wide, requiring more defensive work to help out his full-back.

Van Gaal however clearly is pushing the same values in terms of work ethic towards the £37 million signing.

Mata learned the hard way once that a failure to match what a manager wanted out of him, could cause him to fall out of favour - and this will only inspire him on further to get it absolutely right at Manchester United. 

Is Mata a top contender for player of the year honours this year? If so why not?

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