When Manchester United lined up without Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic on Wednesday, some fans may have expected the worst. But their replacements stepped up with some gusto.
Much has been made of Scott McTominay’s emergence, but Fred was also impressive against a formidable Barcelona side. To such an extent that one wonders if United would have actually done worse with the more experienced pair alongside Paul Pogba.
Herrera could well be moving on this summer, and that would be a shame. But the £29million signing (BBC) may not be missed as much as previously feared.
Similarly, Nemanja Matic has struggled at times this season, rarely living up to his £40million price-tag (BBC).
Gone are the days where United are reliant on the pair and, with some savvy signings this summer, their best days could be behind them.
Whatever happens, United proved against Barca that neither player is irreplaceable.
The belatedly impressive good form of Andreas Pereira is another step in the right direction. And United have the depth – and the money – to ensure Herrera is sufficiently replaced if he moves on.
The Champions League quarter-final did not quite go as planned but, for the second European game running, a previously questionable midfield excelled.
On both occasions, Matic and Herrera were nowhere to be seen.