One of the most surprising transfers in the Premier League last summer was Nemanja Matic’s transfer from Chelsea to Manchester United as it is very rare for a player to be allowed to move from one of the biggest clubs in the country to another.
Jose Mourinho was clearly a big fan of Matic during his spell with the Blues so when he had the opportunity to land the Serbian to his squad at Old Trafford, he pounced to sign him as he was missing a bit of steel in midfield to help protect his defensive line.
Matic started his career at United very strongly and immediately critics were asking why Antonio Conte had sanctioned such a move for the 29-year-old. To add even further fuel to the fire, Tiemoue Bakayoko made a slow start to life at Stamford Bridge following his big-money move from Monaco back in July.
As the season is settling in, though, some people are questioning the contribution Matic is making with the Red Devils, in particular in his side’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford, a result which has put Pep Guardiola’s side in full control over the title race now, despite there being five months of the season left.
The criticism of Matic has been harsh as United were poor collectively against their local rivals. They were second best in every single department and there can be no complaints on their part about the result. If anything, it was United’s forward line, and in particular Romelu Lukaku, who should take a lion’s share of the blame as they simply weren’t at the races.
Matic is clearly United’s best defensive midfielder and he will continue to play his part in helping the club have success domestically and in Europe this season where his side are 14/1 for those who bet on Champions League. The work carried out by the Serbian allows the likes of Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard to flourish in the final third of the pitch as they know there is protection if they do lose the ball and the opposition break.
One of the biggest concerns Mourinho will have with Matic is his injury record. There have already been a couple of occasions this season where he has had to leave the field of play with a muscular strain. This happened in United’s 4-2 victory over Watford last month. The Red Devils were in full control of that tie when the former Chelsea man was on the pitch but as soon as he was substituted, the team lost balance and stability.
The two-time Premier League winner will be hoping to add to his trophy count at Old Trafford. The league looks out of reach now this season, however, Mourinho will be keen to add some silverware in the campaign. They have a tough draw against Sevilla in the last 16 of the Champions League but if they can get through that tie against the Spanish clubs, they will be only games away from the final.