Finally it seems, in Nemanja Matic, United have the hardman their midfield has been crying out for since the days of Roy Keane. While the two players are different stylistically, they both are/were responsible for adding steel to a Manchester United side. The addition of Matic improves the United starting eleven in more than a few key ways.
Unleashing Paul Pogba
Fans and critics alike bemoaned Jose Mourinho’s use of Paul Pogba as defensive midfielder last season. In a midfield two, Pogba took turns with Ander Herrera on who would venture forward to join the attack. He performed admirably, but it has been known for some time that the Frenchman’s best position is as an 8, or a box to box midfielder. With Matic providing cover to the defence, Pogba is now free to roam the left side of midfield and can focus on unlocking the opposition defence with a pass or a skill now that he no longer needs to worry about his back. Even if Jose opts for a 4-2-3-1 formation, Pogba can still get forward now that he has a natural defensive midfielder behind him.
More Freedom for Ander Herrera
Ander Herrera is a midfielder appreciated far more by the United faithful than by common football fans. He is capable of playing any midfield position, but like Pogba, he is best at crusading from eighteen to eighteen, dishing out passes and winning back possession. With the acquisition of Nemanja Matic, Herrera and Pogba can join the Serbian midfielder in a robust yet creative midfield three. Perhaps now opposition fans will see the best of Ander Herrera that Manchester United fans have already noticed.
Improving United’s left side
From fullback to left wing, the players on United’s side like to get forward. Luke Shaw loves to bomb forward, as does Paul Pogba. Martial prefers to cut inside and bamboozle defenders with his mesmerising footwork. Having a left-footed defensive midfielder who prefers to shield the left side of midfield allows the three aforementioned players to fully display their attacking prowess. In addition to acting as a defensive shield, Matic’s gifted left peg provided seven assists, one goal, and twenty key passes last season. Not bad for a defensive midfielder, eh?