By Mark Weasley
The build up to the last game we played in the league, a 1-0 loss to Chelsea was dominated by subplots heading into the clash at Stamford Bridge. The curious cases of Juan Mata, Jose Mourinho and Conte, Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata and Matic vs Bakayoko. Chelsea outplayed us, but Matic wasn’t awful in the clash, as those around him didn’t step up to the plate at the home of the champions.
The football world was shocked when Chelsea agreed to sell Matic to United in the summer for £40m which Chelsea felt was a good price for a player nearing his 30s. However, Mourinho knew that the title-winning experience of Matic could help us win the league.
He has been phenomenal ever since making his debut in the European Super Cup loss to Real Madrid in August, as he has formed an excellent partnership with club record signing, Paul Pogba and relegating last season’s Player of the Year award winner, Ander Herrera to the bench. José Mourinho signed the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof to add more quality but Matic has been head and shoulders above the pair.
While Lindelof has struggled to show the form that convinced Jose and United to shell out £35m for his services from Benfica, Lukaku has wilted under the pressure failing to score since the end of September after a decent start to life at Old Trafford.
Though the replacement for Matic at Chelsea, Tiemoue Bakayoko has impressed in spurts, most Chelsea fans would bring back 29 year old Serbian international, Matic back to the Bridge. Chelsea won two league titles with him in three years, highlighting his importance in that role. Mourinho identified the midfield enforcer to add steel and solidity to the middle of the park and liberate Pogba to operate and dominate opponents further up the pitch.
Matic has been the link between the defence and attack, breaking down attacks and launching passes to players further up the pitch. With Pogba expected to be back after the international break, United will look stronger as we head into the international break. The hectic Christmas schedule is the determinant of the team that wins the league in May, and there are no better players to help navigate that schedule than Matic.
It is a known fact that in Roy Keane, United had a powerhouse that offered the fulcrum for the other players to flourish. In Matic, we have a player not as temperamental, but effective enough to help us win the title.