Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made two changes to the Manchester United side which beat Leeds 5-1 against Southampton.
Anthony Martial came in for Daniel James, with Mason Greenwood shifting from centre-forward to wide on the right.
That sucked tempo and energy from United and so did Solskjaer’s choice of replacement for Scott McTominay – Nemanja Matic.
At his press conference at 1:30pm on Friday, streamed on the official United app, Solskjaer was asked about that decision.
“We started against Leeds and the 5-1 win was justification for the team that we picked,” said Solskjaer.
“Then we move to the next one, Scott [McTominay] couldn’t play and Nemanja [Matic] has been our best player during pre-season.
“That’s why I chose Nemanja. He’s been terrific. Donny [van de Beek] has worked hard, he’s done really well.
“I can’t say anything else other than he will get his chances when the season gets going. That was the decision – that Nemanja started ahead of Donny. It was very close. Very, very close. He has been very positive in the games.”
Matic slows the tempo
Matic had a decent pre-season, while United were waiting for their best central midfield options to come back.
Perhaps the slower nature of those friendly matches – while opponents were getting up to speed – suited him.
Against Southampton, in a game which mattered, he had to go too deep to get the ball – in front of United’s centre halves – and he moved it too slowly.
Van de Beek is less defensively minded but far better at moving the ball quickly and in tight spaces.
With Matic disappointing in that draw and McTominay out for around a month, van de Beek will hope to get chances in the weeks ahead.
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