Rangnick praises Matic's calming influence on United

Nemanja Matic was one of the substitutes who helped alter the course of Manchester United’s Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.

Rangnick did not decide to bring in Matic to replace the absent Scott McTominay from the start, but brought him on in place of Paul Pogba in the second half.

The German has praised the impact of Matic in altering the course of the game already and in an interview with club media, he went into more detail about what he likes about the Serbian.

Rangnick has handed Matic just four starts in his United reign so far, and one of those was as a central defender in a rotated side against Young Boys in the Champions League, but he is clearly a fan.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

“[He’s] very important, a very experienced player, very positive in his approach. But also critical, he speaks up when he has got something to say.

“It’s not only that he calmed down the game, but we had more options in our build-up, we had our full-backs positioned higher from that very moment.

“He was more or less playing like a quarterback, and we could build up with himself and the two centre-backs. Our full-backs were positioned higher, we had more verticality, more speed, more movement with Anthony and Jesse [Lingard] later on and that’s why it was a completely different game from our perspective in the second half.”

McTominay is also absent for today’s clash with Watford and Matic may hope to get a start there after the praise from his manager.

Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

That said, Matic started in the reverse fixture this season alongside McTominay as United were outrun and outfought in a 4-1 defeat.

United are in a better moment now and it is expected that they will put in a far better performance regardless.

Matic is not an ideal fit for Rangnick’s style on paper because he plays quite a slow, positional game and the German wants pressing midfielders.

But it worked in Spain and Rangnick is clearly pleased with influence of one of the only players in the current United squad to have won the Premier League title.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.