Monday 14 August 2017

Magnificent Matic dazzles on Old Trafford bow

For all the attacking firepower ahead of him, it was United's Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic who stole the show on his league debut for the club against West Ham.

Despite having only played 45 minutes in the Reds final pre-season friendly, Matic was voted man of the match on his United bow in the Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid in Skopje. 

He followed that up with another dominant showing alongside Paul Pogba in the engine room to set the tempo and dictate the match as we stormed to a rousing opening day win. 

In a splendid performance, Matic was once more the pick of the bunch in Red and was again named as our most impressive player - narrowly ahead of Pogba and fellow debutant Romelu Lukaku. 

Eyebrows were raised when Jose went back to former club Chelsea to prise the two-time Premier League champion away from the Bridge for a £40m fee.

Matic proved a key man in the Blues title win under Jose Mourinho in 2014-15, and again helped them to success last term in tandem with N'golo Kante at the heart of their superb midfield. 

On this evidence, one must question what Chelsea were thinking: not only did they sanction his sale, but to do so to a direct rival was even more mystifying - the addition of Matic already seems another Mourinho masterstroke. 

Dare I say it, but there are shades of the Robin van Persie signing from Arsenal in 2012. 

Arsene Wenger allowed his star striker to join United for a £27m bargain and the Dutchman finished with 26 league goals to inspire the Reds to the title in SAF's last season before retirement.

The 4-0 win over West Ham was a superb all-round team performance, but Matic was the heartbeat of United's eye-catching victory.
He broke up play superbly, got us moving up the pitch quickly, started counter-attacks at will and, perhaps most importantly, freed up Pogba to roam high up the pitch.

It was from Matic's parried effort that Lukaku got off the mark for United against Real, and the Serbian no.31 was again involved in the Belgian's opener against West Ham.

He was forward thinking, too, something he wasn't known for at Chelsea and it showed in his part for United's opener.

He won the ball high up the pitch, then bombed forward to give Marcus Rashford an overlap on the left when he played Lukaku in down the middle to score. 

Perhaps the most important role Matic will have is to allow £89m man Pogba the free licence to push forward without the responsibility of having to mop up defensively.

The Frenchman had arguably his best game in a United shirt against West Ham as he caused havoc in sync with United's front four with Matic as the shield behind them. 

Early days indeed but if he keeps this form going the former Chelsea man could represent a £40m steal.

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