For a while this season, it seemed that Nemanja Matic’s time at Manchester United was coming to an end.
The £40million signing (BBC) started the current campaign on the bench and was then struck down by injury.
With the January transfer window approaching, and Matic back to full fitness, a move looked likely; especially given his contract situation. But football can change in a moment – both on the field and off it.
Now, Matic is a vital part of United’s starting XI. He is one of the first names on the team sheet and plays a major role in allowing Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba to impress further forward.
Creative players need enforcers to do the dirty work and Matic is better than most. He is also the ideal teacher for a youngster who is unlucky to have slipped down the pecking order since the restart.
Scott McTominay is United through and through. His passion, work ethic and innate talent have endeared him to the club’s supporters. They have also helped him rack up 31 appearances this season.
With five goals and a string of stellar outings, McTominay fully deserves his own new contract. But he may need to be patient as he looks to return to United’s first-choice XI.
Master and apprentice
While McTominay will be frustrated to have dropped out following Matic’s resurgence and Pogba’s return, it is not all bad news for the Scot.
The young midfielder is at Old Trafford for the long haul. In contrast, Matic is approaching the twilight of his career.
And therein lies the vital point. For as long as the Serb remains at United, McTominay must learn all he can from him.
A new three-year deal means Matic is going nowhere for a while. He can now act as the teacher to an apprentice who has all the traits succeeded to be a future United skipper.
McTominay is a class act but he does not have Matic’s experience. As much as the United star is impressing on the field, he can also play a major role on the training field.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be fully aware of the important role Matic can have on the United youngster’s career. He knows how to win trophies and he is adept at allowing his headline-grabbing teammates to do what they do best.
McTominay’s role in the United side may be less for now. However, in learning from Matic he could one day be the first name on a different but equally exciting team sheet.
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