PLAY IT SHORT: Carra wrong on Mata; Yaya must bully Rooney; Matic what Arsenal needs; Krueger Southampton genius
CARRA WRONG WRITING OFF MATA
Jamie Carragher, the Liverpool icon, made a canny observation about Juan Mata in his Saturday column for the Daily Mail. Carra argued that Mata would struggle at Manchester United because he "didn't have the legs" to get around the Old Trafford pitch. He believed that Chelsea's tighter Stamford Bridge pitch suited the Spaniard more. But what Carra didn't take into account was unlike at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, at United, Mata, beyond his own burning desire, will be given every bit of support from within the club to reach his potential. If Ryan Giggs can change his game multiple times during a career to adjust to football's ever-changing demands, then you fancy the same for Mata. Carra has this one dead wrong.
TOURE NEEDS TO OUTPEFORM ROONEY
Twenty goals out of midfield for Yaya Toure this season is an extraordinary effort for the Manchester City man. On the back of his treble against Fulham, Toure goes into tomorrow's derby at Manchester United in flying form. Wayne Rooney, of course, is bouncing after his wonder goal at West Ham United. But Toure needs a big performance at Old Trafford. Indeed, he needs to be Tuesday's main man to erase the doubts that he's a flat-track bully. His Champions League flop against Barcelona only reinforced the critics' claims he doesn't do it on the big stage. Tomorrow, for all the buzz around Rooney, is the ideal moment for Yaya to show us all what he can do.
FLANAGAN HIGHLIGHTS SCOUTING WEAKNESS
Is it really so baffling why Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers couldn't find a club to take Jon Flanagan on-loan in January? Rodgers admits he wanted to send the fullback away during the winter market for first team experience - but there were no takers. Not in the Championship nor League One. Of course, fast-forward to today and the Scouse lad is absolutely flying and set to be rewarded for his form with a bumper pay-rise. But his form leading up to international week wasn't enough for Gareth Southgate to even include him in his England U21 squad. The key here is that you don't see Flanagan's name in the press. There's no agent pushing the lad to his contacts at Fleet Street, talking up the prospect of a loan move or a new contract. There's no 'come and watch me' plea to Southgate through the red tops. Nothing. So Flanagan is basically ignored. Rodgers knows all about his talent. As does the Kop. Shame on every manager in the Championship and League One still looking for a fullback to take on-loan and did not even think of Flano because there was no-one in the press or in his ear telling him to do so.
KRUEGER KICKS OFF WITH BIT OF GENIUS
As Ralph Krueger proved last week: Sometimes it takes an outsider to show English football what is staring them smack in the face. The ice hockey guru, now Southampton chairman, raised the exciting prospect of his new club exporting their academy know-how as a new revenue stream. And why not? Go to developing football markets, armed with a long list of star graduates, and sell your wares. A brilliant, innovative idea out of the box from the German. As he mentioned, there are already clubs on the continent studying Southampton's youth set-up - so why not monetise it? Oh, by the way, still no news from the FA Commission about when they'll get around to asking Saints why their development system has been so successful...
MORRISON JUST NEEDS TO BE LEFT ALONE
Ravel Morrison just needs to be left alone. Now with QPR, he's again showing the talent which had us all raving at the start of the season. Remember the goal at Tottenham? Of course, the story goes he stalled at parent club West Ham United midseason after Sam Allardyce and Kevin Nolan urged him to go with their agent. This has been denied, but even if it was just a friendly recommendation, it's still significant coming from the manager and captain of the club. It's a lot of pressure for a player still unsure about a career in the game and 160 miles from Manchester. His goal in victory at Middlesbrough was his fifth in seven games for the Rs. Just leave him be and let the boy play.
MOU ACTED ON MATIC WHILE OTHERS DITHERED
We'll be hearing a lot more about Nemanja Matic next season. The big Serb enjoyed two assists in Chelsea's 6-0 rout of Arsenal on Saturday. Standing at 6ft 4in, Matic looks every inch the modern day box-to-box midfielder. And against Arsenal, he was mobile, creative - and destructive when needed. The crazy thing is that Matic is the type of player Arsenal (and Manchester United) have been screaming out for, for over two years. Yet it was Jose Mourinho who called the former Blue and convinced him to quit Benfica and try again at Chelsea in January.
REVIVAL OF NON-LEAGUE TALENT
Like Duncan Watmore last summer, Johan Ter Horst's move to Hull City should act as inspiration to any young hopeful outside the Football League. While Watmore, who was snapped up by Sunderland from Altrincham, came through the system at Manchester United, Ter Horst, 18, has been with little Folkestone Invicta since he was 12 years of age. To convince Hull boss Steve Bruce to hand him effectively a three-year Premier League contract is great credit to the Invicta coaching staff. Bruce, during his playing years at Norwich City and Manchester United, was part of an era when the interest of top-flight clubs in non-league stars was at it's height. Andy Gray, Ian Wright, Neil Emblen, Stan Collymore, the list went on and on. And perhaps we're now seeing a revival, with Ter Horst and Watmore following the path tread by Southampton's England striker Ricki Lambert and QPR's goal machine Charlie Austin. West Ham United have taken Danny Whitehead from Stockport County and Paul McCallum from Dulwich Hamlet in the last 12 months and it's no secret now that Premier League scouting is reaching beyond the Football League - and even the Conference - at senior level.