Manchester United fans are just desperate to see the injection of new blood, and a player who can add a bit of fizz to what has been a rather pedestrian looking United will be a welcome sight. The 25-year-old Spaniard, Mata, who was a £37 million signing from Chelsea, will be expected to slot straight into the team. This will be especially so if deep-lying striker Robin van Persie remains sidelined with a niggling thigh injury. Although it has not been confirmed that Mata will feature against the Bluebirds in their upcoming Premier League clash, United have a tradition of parading new acquisitions to the Old Trafford faithful even if they are not playing in the match.
In 1992, United were struggling to score goals in what was a poor start to the inaugural Premier League season. Eric Cantona, the catalyst behind then defending champions and bitter rival Leeds United’s title success, crossed the lines. The rest is history. Cantona inspired United to four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Charity Shield three times, which is now the Community Shield.
Cantona formed a solid understanding with striker partner Mark Hughes before taking on a new role to drag man-markers out of position. It produced a dimension of soccer that was rare outside the Latin countries, but welcome. The Manchester United players grew in confidence as a result. Cantona’s gallic flair rubbed off on the younger players. Although Mata has joined at a much later stage in the season than Cantona did, both in terms of date and points on the board, the fans from the red half of Manchester will be hoping Mata will provide Old Trafford with similar inspiration,
Someone who played in those halcyon days before scoring the winning goal in the Champions League title in 1999 , securing an unprecedented treble in the process, is Ole Solskjær. The Norwegian, who went onto become a coach at Old Trafford before going home to coach in his native Norway, has returned to the Premier League as the latest manager to be employed by colorful Cardiff City owner, Vincent Tan.
Solskjær, better-known for being an impact player due to his ability to come off the bench and score in an instant, will remain a part of United folklore. Such was his success at managing his old club Molde, many tipped the Scandinavian to be a future Manchester United manager. Molde finished in a moderate sixth position last season, having won back-to-back titles beforehand, but it still did not make sense for him to leave a stable job for one that should come with a health warning. Tan does not suffer fools gladly, as demonstrated by the harsh exit of predecessor Malky Mackay, the man often called Cardiff’s best ever manager.That move was not a welcome one among fans. The new incumbent, however, is looking at the bigger picture, and there is no better place to audition for the big job than at Old Trafford itself.
By Robert Shepherd