Nemanja Matic

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Matic criticizes Solskjaer’s team selections

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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.

Man Utd team news, injury updates ahead of Barcelona clash

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Manchester United are nearing a return to full(er) strength after yet another lengthy injury crisis, but the majority of those closest to seeing the field are still likely to miss out on Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Barcelona.

[ MORE: Solskjaer “cannot see” Paul Pogba leaving Man United this summer ]

Chief among them is Marcus Rashford, who happens to be closest to returning to game action. Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed on Tuesday that Rashford participated in a portion of first-team training 24 hours before the clash at Old Trafford, but the 21-year-old sounds a 50-50 doubt at best — quotes from the BBC:

“Hopefully he will be ready. He needed extra warm-up and hopefully he won’t get a reaction. He joined part of (training) at the end, but he couldn’t join the fun part of training.”

Meanwhile, Nemanja Matic is a long shot to feature after he was an unused substitute during the defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers and was then unable to train now a week later.

[ MORE: Klopp enjoying pressure of title race, “loves this season much more” ]

Ander Herrera is “probably out,” according to Solskjaer, while Alexis Sanchez has been officially ruled out of consideration to face his former club on Wednesday.

On a somewhat positive note, full backs Luke Shaw (two games) and Ashley Young (one game) will be available once again despite being suspended from domestic competition.

Matic misses Liverpool fight, out for weeks

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Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic suffered “a nasty knock” in training Saturday and will miss 2-4 weeks of action

Matic, 30, has started every match since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the reins at United.

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He’s been replaced by Scott McTominay for Sunday’s match versus Liverpool, with Fred joining the bench to provide cover.

Ander Herrera could also slide into a more defensive role, but the Spaniard has been very good with increased attacking freedom under Solskjaer.

In addition to the Liverpool visit, United’s next month of fixtures includes the second leg of a UEFA Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain as well as league tests from Crystal Palace, Southampton, Arsenal and Wolves.

Watch Live: Southampton vs. Manchester United

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Nemanja Matic gets a rare start at center back when Manchester United visits Southampton on Saturday at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Scott McTominay also will feature for United, who played at midweek in the Champions League.

Saints start Michael Obafemi up top and also use 19-year-old Yan Valery.

LINEUPS

Southampton: McCarthy, Cedric, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Stephens, Armstrong, Lemina, Redmond, Hojbjerg, Valery, Obafemi. Subs: Gunn, Hoedt, Davis, Austin, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Gabbiadini.

Manchester United: De Gea, Young, Jones, Matic, Shaw, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Pogba, Rashford, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Dalot, Rojo, Fred, Lingard, Mata, Martial.

Matic explains why he will not wear poppy

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Nemanja Matic has revealed why he will not wear a poppy on his shirt in the next few weeks.

The Manchester United and Serbia midfielder was the only player not to wear an embroidered poppy on his shirt in the 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday, with many puzzled as to why this was the case.

Premier League clubs wear a poppy on their shirt to honor all of those who have served the British military and their allies over the years. Many citizens of the UK wear the poppy around Remembrance Day in November each year.

However Matic revealed that due to his hometown of Vrelo being bombed by Nato forces when he was growing up, he doesn’t feel comfortable wearing the poppy.

“I recognize fully why people wear poppies, I totally respect everyone’s right to do so and I have total sympathy for anyone who has lost loved ones due to conflict. However, for me it is only a reminder of an attack that I felt personally as a young, frightened 12-year old boy living in Vrelo, as my country was devastated by the bombing of Serbia in 1999. Whilst I have done so previously, on reflection I now don’t feel it is right for me to wear the poppy on my shirt,” Matic said. “I do not want to undermine the poppy as a symbol of pride within Britain or offend anyone, however, we are all a product of our own upbringing and this is a personal choice for the reasons outlined.”

Matic was criticized by many for not wearing a poppy and although you have to respect his reasons, the Serbian midfielder has worn a poppy on his shirt every season he has been playing in England with either Chelsea or United.

James McClean has not worn a poppy due to his Irish heritage and has been lambasted by fans across the UK for that decision since 2011 when he arrived at Sunderland. The former Premier League winger now plays with second-tier Stoke City and he is currently under investigation by the FA for his recent comments regarding his decision to not wear a poppy after Stoke’s game against Middlesbrough on Saturday.