David Moyes said tonight that new signing Juan Mata will have to be prepared to play on the wing at times to accommodate the partnership of Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie at Manchester United.
The United manager paid tribute to the effect of Mata, making his debut in the 2-0 home win over Cardiff City, but also said that the return from injury of Van Persie and Rooney would be crucial in turning around United's season. Asked about the prospect of Rooney signing a new contract, Moyes would not elaborate any more than to say: “I am sure we will keep you up to date with that as well.”
On Mata, the United manager said that the £37m signing had made an immediate impact. “I think no matter what we had done, to see Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney back on the touchline would have been enough to give everyone an uplift but then to have Juan Mata as well...
“Everyone in the crowd gave him a fantastic reception tonight and I think the crowd saw he was creative in the early part of the game. He made our best chances in the opening 20-30 minutes so I was really pleased.
“I think what he will do is take the ball. He will get used to us and we will get used to him. I wanted to see him and Robin out there tonight, it was good to get those minutes. We know that we will use Juan in different positions and we will get used to him over the coming weeks and months.
“I can play him in any role. I can play him off the left, I can play him off the right which allows me to keep Robin and Wayne as a partnership, I am quite comfortable with that, and if at any times I need him to do another job, No 10, he is quite capable of doing that.”
Moyes said that he felt it would be unlikely United would sign more players in the transfer window but he did not rule it out altogether. “Has my mood improved? Yeah, because I know I have got some really good players coming back but of course I want to be more convincing, I want to win better and play much better.
“Don't think because we have won tonight I have got a smile and am happy, I'm happy because we have got the three points but for where I want to go and the vision I have got for how I want my team to go, I have got a long way to go.
“The results with them [Mata, Van Persie and Rooney] will get much better. We need to get them in the right physical condition now to make that happen. They are all in need of more match practise and fitness and they probably going to have to get that in the game situations but I was really pleased with them and one or two others stood up.
“Ashley Young made a goal, scored a goal and what I want is competition, people knowing that if you play well, go and do it again next week. I also need players that if we lose players through injury, people can come in and we can keep the results going in the right direction.”