Matic already making Man United tick

by

August 15, 2017
@Normal:Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (left) celebrates his goal against Real Madrid during the UEFA Super Cup final on Tuesday. At right is Nemanja Matic.<\n>

MANCHESTER (AP):

As Nemanja Matic was winning towering headers, intercepting passes, dribbling round opponents and generally running the midfield in his first Premier League game for Manchester United, imagine what Antonio Conte must have been thinking.

The Chelsea coach didn't want to sell Matic, particularly not to a title rival like United. But an offer of PS40 million ($53 million) for a 29-year-old was too good for Chelsea's hierarchy to turn down.

It could prove to be one of the most pivotal pieces of business done in the off season.

Romelu Lukaku stole the spotlight in United's 4-0 win over West Ham on Sunday, scoring two goals, but it was Matic a player costing around half as much this summer - who was the key to the performance.

He dominated Old Trafford in his first match there as a United player, looking every inch the holding midfielder the team needs with Michael Carrick nearing the end of his time at the club.

"He is a player I call a stability player," Mourinho said of Matic.

Crucially, and as has been widely predicted, Matic's presence allowed Pogba more freedom to roam forward in central midfield. With strikers Lukaku and Marcus Rashford stretching play with their runs and Pogba making the most of the space behind, United was so much more dangerous.

Pogba scored the fourth goal from 25 metres out in the 90th minute. He hit the goal frame (10 times) more often than scoring (nine goals) last season, but this season could be different - and he could have Matic largely to thank.

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