Nemanja Matic gave it his all but it is time for Manchester United to move on

You could not fault Nemanja Matic for effort against Aston Villa. He just ran out of steam.

Matic played all 90 minutes at Villa Park and probably should have been taken off on the 55 minute mark.

The problem was, with Scott McTominay suspended, United did not have any defensive midfielder alternatives. Matic is the back-up.

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

The Athletic suggested United should have turned to Phil Jones in midfield. It’s 2022, and with respect to Jones, this should not be an option. When it has come to his point, you know something has gone badly wrong at United.


Paul Pogba being back from injury would help, but how can you rely on a player who has one foot out the door already? You can’t. United have to plan without him.

And that’s the problem. There is no urgency right now and the plan under Ralf Rangnick seems to be, ‘let’s leave it to the next guy’.

Even with a Champions League last 16 tie in play, just the club’s fourth in nine years, United don’t seem to be keen on fixing this problem position any time soon.

It’s so frustrating, made worse so because Matic shows flashes of being the player United need, in spurts. He just can’t keep it up over a 90 minute stretch against a half-decent opposition.

Matic made five interceptions against Villa, showing the kind of alertness United require from a player in his position. But after picking up a booking he was walking a tightrope and could afford little error.

The Serbian made only one tackle, whereas back in his peak for Chelsea in 2014/15 he used to average 3.6 per game.

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Try to do something different

Matic is 33 and he still gives it his all, but it is not fair on Manchester United to depend on him like this, and it’s not fair to the club’s supporters.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s single biggest error during his time in charge of the club was choosing not to replace Matic.

Ralf Rangnick is currently paying the price for that, and even if he wants to find a replacement now, his hands may be tied.

At this stage, United owe it to themselves to try and do something different. If they don’t, then Nemanja Matic will continue to try his best, and in some games it will work out alright, but more often than not, it will not be good enough. That’s not on him, its on those who put him in that position.

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