It’s no surprise that Nemanja Matic is unhappy with his current situation.
The Manchester United veteran central midfielder has not only appeared to have lost a step, losing the pace that helped him close down defenders all over the park as well as beat others on balls in the air, but it’s in more real terms lost his place in the starting lineup. So far this early Premier League season, Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has preferred 22-year-old midfielder Scott McTominay as the holding midfielder for the team, leaving Matic to stew on the sidelines.
If Man United fails in its quest to finish in the top four, Matic says the blame lays solely at the feet of Solskjaer.
“The coach must opt for the team that will fight for the title and if he does not win, he bears the responsibility,” Matic said at a press conference ahead of Serbia’s Euro 2020 qualifying match against Portugal on Friday. “I have been in football for a long time, I have played almost all the games for all the clubs in the last 10 years. In order for me to play, one had to sit on the bench and accept that fact, and so do I now.”
It’s been three straight matches without a win for Man United, after a rollicking 4-0 victory over Chelsea where the Red Devils certainly finished all of their chances. The side could do with a player of Matic’s ability – at least in the past. Someone who can put out fires in central midfield, but could also dribble or have the technical ability to play the ball to forwards in tight spaces.
At the same time, Matic’s suggestion that Man United would surely achieve all its objectives with him in the lineup is doubtful. In addition, the players and Solskjaer will equally share the blame if Man United continue to struggle this season. At some point, it’s not just the manager.
At 31, Matic might be at the point where he has to change his game, either shifting to a centerback or playing a new role. With Pogba, it’s never an easy partnership, as Pogba likes to drift around to be available to play the killer pass, but that could leave another central midfield partner with more space to cover.
Ultimately, Matic seemed to understand that it’s up to him to get himself back in the Man United starting eleven.