An underwhelming performance away at Southampton seemed to underline what many Manchester United fans feared about Nemanja Matic. That he is way past his best.
Well, against Newcastle on Saturday, Matic went about proving people wrong.
Matic was probably an unpopular name in the line-up in comparison to the pleas for Donny van de Beek to start. But it did make some sense.
Matic is more of a typical defensive midfielder and with all the attacking talent on the pitch, United needed balance.
While Newcastle still posed a threat, they lacked a cutting edge, and Matic was able to largely steer United in the right direction.
Partnership with Pogba resumed
Against Southampton, Matic played alongside Fred. In this game Matic was back alongside Pogba.
Matic’s best spells for United have come alongside Pogba in midfield, most recently in the post-lockdown run of fixtures at the end of 2019/20.
While Newcastle’s lack of quality has to be taken into account, Matic played well in Saturday’s fixture.
He showed that he can be, at minimum, a useful squad player for this team throughout the season.
Matic’s improved performance
Matic touched the ball 115 times against Newcastle. Only midfield partner Paul Pogba managed more, with 125.
He was careful with possession, completing 93 per cent of his passes, and he even created two goalscoring chances.
Matic kept United’s attacks moving, and in the first half he did particularly well to chase down a lost ball and win a corner.
He also managed to win three tackles, a number bettered only by Aaron Wan-Bissaka (4).
Matic may not play every week in midfield, especially with Scott McTominay close to recovering from injury. But he showed today that he doesn’t have to be a liability when he does, instead he can actually be an asset for this team.
- Cristiano Ronaldo expecting twins with girlfriend
- Conte may be a serial winner domestically but he hasn’t cracked Europe
- Manchester United loanee Dylan Levitt dominates in Dundee United draw
- Marcus Rashford sends message as he looks to fix Manchester United situation
- Three quick fix signings Manchester United could make in January to get back on track
- Manchester United youngster Sonny Aljofree celebrates meeting Cristiano Ronaldo
- Is a diamond formation the solution to Manchester United’s problems?
- Manchester United youngster Malachi Sharpe scores on Scotland under-17 debut
- Cristiano Ronaldo sends message as he looks to bounce back with Manchester United
- Five substitutes rule change would benefit Manchester United whoever is in charge
- Manchester City out of Carabao Cup: Did Manchester United miss out or have lucky escape?
- Three steps Solskjaer can take to avoid bowing out like Jose Mourinho
- Manchester United’s players pictured back in training
- Raphael Varane’s possible return would be Manchester United’s best case scenario
- A look at Antonio Conte’s record vs Manchester United