Steve Holland backs Juan Mata to ‘adapt’ at Chelsea

Steve Holland is convinced that Juan Mata will be quick to adapt his style of play to Jose Mourinho's vision in the coming weeks

juan mata
Juan Mata signed for Chelsea from Valencia in August 2011 Photo: The Sport Review

Steve Holland is convinced that Juan Mata will be quick to adapt his style of play to Jose Mourinho’s vision and says it won’t be long until the Spaniard is back in regular action.

The 25-year-old has only started two games under Mourinho since the Portuguese coach returned to Stamford Bridge this summer, with the Blues boss saying that the playmaker must learn to play a new role before he returns to being a regular fixture in the first team.

But Chelsea assistant boss Holland, who faced the media instead of Mourinho head of Tuesday’s League Cup clash with Swindon, says change is a natural part of a club’s development – and the type of situation Mata is in is nothing new.

“An assistant can have a different relationship with the players as opposed to the manager who picks the team and makes the major decisions,” said Holland.

“You are forever communicating with players but in this case you are talking about a professional player with a fantastic attitude. There isn’t a great deal that needs to be said to Juan, he knows the score and he is a top professional. He trained well yesterday as you would expect.

“Having to adapt is nothing particularly new here. I have been here five years and going back to Carlo Ancelotti’s team playing with Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka playing behind Didier Drogba with three soldiers in midfield, Frank Lampard had to adapt and get out to defend against full-backs because Anelka wasn’t asked to do that in the role he played.

“It changed with Andre Villas-Boas to 4-3-3 and Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata had to chase the full-backs, and with Roberto Di Matteo that changed a little bit and Salomon Kalou and Ramires played wide. Mata played in the No10 role for the first time really at Chelsea.

“With Rafael Benítez it again changed a little, a bit more of a compromise. Oscar was asked then to play wide and Ramires, especially in the bigger games. When Juan’s role was the No10 it was another adaptation that was required and he has shown here he is more than capable of doing that, and that will be the case this time.”

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