Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

From Reject to Required - Matic Would Balance the Reds Line-Up

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

From Reject to Required - Matic Would Balance the Reds Line-Up

Article excerpt

UNITED were getting battered by Chelsea when Jose Mourinho instructed the club's new signing Nemanja Matic to warm up in front of the away supporters.

"Chelsea reject," was the cry as Reds supporters settled for gallows humour during their fourth defeat in five matches.

Matic had just rejoined Chelsea from Benfica for £21m after leaving as a makeweight in the deal which took David Luiz to Stamford Bridge three years earlier. Chelsea had thought so lowly of Matic they farmed him out to Vitesse Arnhem and his form at Benfica alerted United.

David Moyes dithered and a player who was described as 'institutionally liked' at United became the first piece of Mourinho's title jigsaw at Chelsea.

Just like three-and-a-half years later, Matic is about to bring balance to a Mourinho side.

"We may have to take a step back in order to be more consistent at the back," Mourinho said after Chelsea's December 2013 League Cup loss at Sunderland. "It's something I don't want to do, to play more counter-attacking, but I'm giving it serious thought.

"If I want to win 1-0, I think I can, as I think it's one of the easiest things in football. It's not so difficult as you don't give players the chance to express themselves."

Seven years younger than Michael Carrick and more adept in a defensive-minded role than Marouane Fellaini and Ander back four and is familiar with starting as the lone holder or as one of a pair of holders.

Key to United's Europa League final victory was Mourinho's decision to 'invert the pyramid',' siding Pogba and Herrera at the base with Fellaini ahead of them, forcing Ajax to play long against a United that was 'taller and dominant in that area.' .' You can see why Matic has been prioritised.

role as the pivot... might most important Luckhurst Fellaini was the ideal selection since, as Ryan Giggs explained, 'he does exactly what you say'. The Belgian was still an auxiliary option and the incentive in signing Matic is two attacking midfielders, rather than one, could be more proficient with a seasoned expert like the Serb holding the fort. …

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