|Picture Courtesy of www.bimg.com|
Hoping all are keeping well and safe during this unprecedented time around the world as football has been placed on hold until further notice. Nemanja Matic has just extended his contract to 2021 after being linked with moves away in January with Inter and Spurs looking to purchase the experienced midfielder but Manchester United clearly wish to keep the Serb at least for another season. Let’s take a look back at the English Premier career of Nemanja Matic, the Serbian professional footballer currently playing as a defensive midfielder for Manchester United.
Nemanja started his career as an attacking midfielder but shifted to a defensive midfielder and is known for his consistent performances on the pitch and his combative style of play. Matic moved to Chelsea for £1.5 million in 2009 but was used sparingly during his first spell in the summer of 2011, he moved to Benfica is part of a swap deal involving David Luiz. Matić returned to Chelsea in January 2014, for £21 million. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the 2014–15 season. In July 2017, he was reunited with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho after signing for Manchester United. On 5 March 2018, Maitc scored his first goal for the club with a half-volley in a 3–2 comeback win over Crystal Palace after being 2–0 down. This season has been a topsy turvy one for Matic, his fortunes have dramatically turned around as earlier on in the season it appeared his days at Old Trafford were coming to an end and speculation his contract may not possibly be renewed Matic was not featuring in Solskjaer plans and even criticised the manager’s decision to leave him on the side-lines. By Christmas, Matic had only started two Premier League games. However, with long-term midfield injuries, of Pogba and with McTominay sidelined for two months, Matic stepped up alongside Fred in midfield. In the last 10 games Matic has started, United have scored 17 and conceded six. They also recorded big wins over Man City, Chelsea and Wolves with him in midfield. United have only conceded two in the past seven games that Matic has featured in. The 31-year-old will now stay at Old Trafford until June 2021 and possibly even further amid talks over a fresh contract. Solskjaer earlier this month that United were looking to sort a new deal for Matic. He stated that “we have agreed with him so he will stay, 100 per cent” and sure enough he signed an extension a few days after. Matic has played a total of 109 games in all competitions for Manchester United and has scored 4 goals, creating five goals too.
Matic in my opinion has always been regarded as a solid technician – his abilities on the ball and when distributing have never really been in doubt. Even when it looked like his days at Old Trafford were numbered, one could still rely on Matic to be neat in possession. But towards the end of last season and when he featured in the earlier stages of this term, it was his effectiveness off the ball that raised concerns, appearing sluggish, slow and perhaps generally lacking fitness.He is on the right track again now, however. Over United’s unbeaten run, he has averaged three tackles per match, a figure only Fred and Andreas Pereira can match – though the latter has played significantly fewer minutes. Matic is also averaging two interceptions per match. Scott McTominay (three) is the solitary United midfielder to have a better record in comparison – but again, the Scotland international has not played as regularly as the Serbian. Recoveries are another area Matic is proving effective in, with eight per game, the scond-highest among United’s midfielders. But undoubtedly a key element of Matic’s renaissance has been the overall improvement among United’s midfield options, particularly with respect to Fred. Even with Paul Pogba in the team last season, United’s midfield was a real problem area. They rarely lacked control, teams often sliced straight through them and not enough creativity was coming from the middle. The same cannot be said now. While Bruno Fernandes’ introduction has obviously had an impact, a lot of it is down to Fred’s adaptation.The Brazilian’s well-rounded abilities have him excelling in many areas.
Matic certainly deserves praise for seemingly saving his United career, but on the face of it, he is being helped by the fact he is now playing in a significantly more effective and cohesive midfield.