When Manchester United signed Nemanja Matic for £40million (BBC) in 2017, it was no surprise. After all, the Serbia international was Jose Mourinho’s go-to man at former club Chelsea.
He started in fine form, racking up 49 appearances in all competitions. But his dwindling impact followed that of his boss. Luckily for United, Matic remains long after the Portuguese waved goodbye.
It did not always look that way. Matic barely got a kick in the first half of this season and, with his contract running down, an exit looked likely.
Instead, Matic’s resurgent form has played a major role in United’s upturn. He is now one of the first names on the team sheet, with Fred and Scott McTominay missing out.
The majestic Bruno Fernandes and returning Paul Pogba have generated most of the headlines. However, it is Matic’s quiet work behind them that allows the pair to shine.
It is for those exact traits that Mourinho brought the Serb to Old Trafford in the first place. Matic was faltering in blue but he rediscovered his verve in red.
Now, for the first time since arriving at United, Matic looks like the world-class player he was once tipped to become.
Solskjaer bettering his predecessor
Mourinho has previously been vocal in his feelings about Solskjaer’s appointment at United . Yet, with each passing match, it seems the Red Devils finally have the man to bring the glory days back to the club.
That was tipped to be the Portuguese, but his success was brief and tainted by a style of football that left most fans screaming ‘Attack!’
What Mourinho always prided himself on is surrounding himself by players with his mindset. He got the best out of the same men at club after club. Yet Solskjaer is now doing something even the so-called ‘Special one’ couldn’t.
He is getting so much more out of a ‘Mourinho player’ than the man himself ever did.
It is a testament to the United boss’s talent as a man manager and a tactician.
It is not only Matic who is playing arguably his best football under Solskjaer. But the fact that he is proves Mourinho has no right to question the boss’s ability any longer.
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