Last summer. World Cup summer. Before the World Cup, Manchester United reinforced their midfield with the signing of Fred from Shakthar Donetsk.
They also retained Andreas Periera and prevented him from moving on another loan because Mourinho wanted to change him into a ball playing defensive midfielder or popularly known in modern footballing terms, as a ‘Regista’.
We already had 5 midfielders in Matic, Pogba, Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and McTominay. JoseMourinho thought he had a competent midfield to turn Manchester United into the classy, title winning team again.
Pre Season with the world cup and Matic, Fellaini, Pogba unavailable for the full duration of the American Tour and Fred available for only half of the tour. Andreas, Ander Herrera and McTominay were the 3 senior midfielders available. So, the 3 players that were thought to be the starting midfield was not there in the American Tour.
The way Jose Mourinho spoke of Andreas Periera in that tour, you’d have thought that he would get a run of games when the season started.
Nemanja Matic, who held the midfield together last season, came back with an injury from the World Cup. So, he wasn’t available to start the new season. Mourinho had to start one of his 2 ”new” midfielders at Defensive Midfield. And it was naturally, Andreas Periera who started against Leicester City. He also performed well and started against Brighton where he was withdrawn at half time and was never to be seen.
This is Mourinho’s biggest weakness. One young player has 45 bad minutes. Taking him off was absolutely not wrong. But, to not have him in squads afterwards is just purely unwarranted and that too for a player he praised very very happily in pre season.
On the other hand, Matic, who returned injured, was unavailable for starting the season and had been poor for Serbia in the World Cup was bought back staright into the squad for the game against Spurs. Matic has never had a good game this season. Not even one. The worst player this season for Manchester United without a doubt. From what’s expected of Matic, he hasn’t even shown 10% of his abilities this season.
And that responsibility of replacing and not replacing Nemanja Matic rests with only one man and and thats not himself. It rests with the manager. And the manager has failed in replacing him. He decides to play Matic literally every game when Matic clearly looks tired, slow and positionally, showing absolutely no awareness and getting run over by every team including the likes of West Ham and Wolverhampton Wanderers and Derby County.
Nemanja Matic has to be dropped at least now. It’s already too late to drop him. He had to be dropped at least 5 weeks before. But, he’s still starting for Manchester United.
Irrespective of Jose Mourinho playing him or dropping him, we have compiled a list of players, 4 players, to replace Matic in the short term so that he could recover from the tiredness.
The natural replacement for Nemanja Matic if you believed Mourinho in the summer. Quick, eye for a pass in behind, silky and smooth. But, defensively susceptible. And maybe that’s why Mourinho is trying his best to protect the youngster. But, it’s high time he plays.
The Brazilian, central midfielder by position, is a very energetic hybrid of a destroyer and a smooth attacking midfielder. He can do well in 3 midfield positions. CDM, CM or CAM. So, he can be a very good replacement for Matic for the short term.
A fairly left field option from the academy is U-23 captain James Garner. James Garner is again a smooth player in the centre of the midfield. He is a very good one for the future. But, he can be a very good option even at the moment.
One man that is really close replacing Nemanja Matic and also satisfies Jose Mourinho’s defensive midfielder would be Ander Herrera. Combative and hard tackling and good coverage and also a player who can lead the side from the middle of the pitch helps to his advantage over any other midfielder in our list.