Mata comes to Benitez’s defence

Manchester United and Spain forward Juan Mata describes Real Madrid Coach Rafa Benitez as ‘a strategist’ and discusses Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal.

Mata added in an appearance on Onda Cero’s Al Primer Toque that the time he spent playing under Benitez at Chelsea was his most productive in English football.

“I had a fantastic experience with him. It was my best year in England, where I had the best numbers,” Mata recalled, Marca reports.

“He gave me great confidence to play and made me feel important in the team.

“[Benitez is] a strategist, but not defensive. He prepares a lot tactically for matches and it is necessary to know how to manage it as a player.

“He’s a Coach that when the game needs to be about attack, he attacks with everything he has…and when there’s a need to defend, he does that as well.

“Benitez understands very well what can determine a match at all times, beyond what went well or didn’t in the last few games.”

Mata also discussed some of the other Coaches he has worked with in his time in the Premier League, including current Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal, who calls the shots at United.

“Mourinho isn’t the most incredible character I’ve met in football. There are a lot of characters in football, maybe just some not so well known,” he remarked of the former Real Madrid trainer.

“The Press in England say he gives them a lot of work and plays a lot of games. I imagine that’s good for them.

“Chelsea are living an unreal situation that’s somewhat circumstantial and won’t go on for too much longer. They don’t have the squad to be where they are.

“And also, in the Premier League, we have seen a gap of 10 points close in two months. I expect Chelsea to get out of this situation right away. In fact, I wouldn’t rule them out for the title.

“Van Gaal is an honest person who goes straight ahead. When he has something negative to say he tells you to your face, and when he can be good natured he is.

“When you do something wrong he’ll shout, but when you do something well he comes over and gives you a hug and a kiss.”

Tags Chelsea Jose Mourinho Juan Mata Louis van Gaal Manchester United Rafa Benitez