Even Jose Mourinho can’t stop Juan Mata being an absolutely lovely bloke.
Mourinho is a master of the dark arts and is happy to win by any means possible.
Many of the Special One’s teams have been experts in drawing decisions from the referee as they chase a win, but no Mata, no way.
Possibly the nicest man in football proved it once again with his display against Stoke.
Not only did he get up and down the pitch as if he knew the club were about to sign someone in his position, but he showed a great example of sportsmanship too.
United eventually won the game 3-0 thanks to goals from Antonio Valencia, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku as Stoke pretty much gave up towards the end.
The win leaves the Red Devils 12 points behind leaders Man City, but after their slip up against Liverpool there is the tiniest sliver of hope that they can catch Pep Guardiola’s runaway freight train.
However, with the score 1-0 last night and the Potters threatening to level things up, Mata showed the kind of attitude that we would like to see in all footballers.
Great link up play between Mata and Valencia saw the Ecuadorian backheel the ball into Mata’s path as he burst into the box.
Bruno Martins Indi came across to defend the chance and looked as if he was going to clumsily challenge the Spaniard.
Mata took a fall and slid across the turf as the crowd called for a penalty, from where the referee was standing it could well have been given.
Only for Mata to immediately put is hands up and tell the Stoke players it was neither a foul nor should a penalty have been given.
Forgive the cynic in us but there could have been another reason.
This season new rules mean players can be retrospectively banned for diving or deceiving the referee.
Maybe, once he knew the foul had not been given, he was making sure he’d face no further action from the FA and a possible ban.
We prefer to think Mata is just a great guy.
- Man City pull out of race to sign Alexis Sanchez with Chelsea now showing interest
- Jurgen Klopp turned down the chance to be Alex Ferguson’s sucessor
- Jose Mourinho calls time on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s career at the top level of football