Juan Mata has been urged to follow Cristiano Ronaldo’s example and broaden his skill set under Jose Mourinho in order to force his way back into the side, Chelsea assistant coach Steve Holland said on Monday.
The Spain midfielder, voted player of the year in the past two seasons, has been used sparingly by Mourinho, but Holland thinks he is capable of altering his game to fit into the manager’s plans.
“Ronaldo is a player I have always really admired, but in his three-year period working with Jose he really evolved as an individual,” Holland said on the club’s Web site.
“He is not just a talented dribbler who can score goals, he has become a top-level match winner who wants to make runs in behind and to threaten the goal,” he added. “Jose is always pushing the players to the maximum every day, and that is evident not just in the teams, but in the individuals he has worked with.”
Holland, who has worked at Chelsea under Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas and Rafa Benitez, noted previous examples of Mourinho altering players’ styles to suit his tactics.
“I will also never forget the game against Chelsea when Jose was the coach of Inter,” Holland said. “Pandev, Milito, Eto’o and Schneider were the front four. Three of those were strikers and one is a number 10, so a very creative team to come to Chelsea away and yet they worked like Trojans the four of them, I have never seen attacking players work so hard.”
Mata’s opportunities have been limited and Mourinho referred to the Spaniard’s defensive limitations after Chelsea’s defeat by Basel in the Champions League.
“Jose is quite clear in his mind given the success he has had. He knows the recipe for success and he feels that is the way forward for us this year,” Holland said. “Having to adapt is nothing particularly new here.”