As announced by Manchester United’s official website, the Red Devils have today signed Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic. The Serbian, who rejoined Chelsea from Benfica in 2014, was instrumental in the Blues’ Premier League title win last season, and Mourinho will hope he has the same impact at Old Trafford this term.
Despite featuring 35 times for the London club in 2016/17, Matic found himself forced out of Antonio Conte’s plans by the arrival of Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko. However, Jose Mourinho, unlike Conte, still sees the Serbian as an impressive player and the Portuguese manager reunites with his midfield man ahead of the new campaign.
Upon his arrival, Mourinho, who signed Matic for Chelsea in 2014, said: “Nemanja is a Manchester United player and a Jose Mourinho player. He represents everything we want in a footballer; loyalty, consistency, ambition, team player.”
Last season, United lacked a holding midfielder that had both an impressive passing range and an ability to win key battles for his side. Matic is a player that can do this, while also allowing Paul Pogba to be set free to create chances further forward.
With the former Chelsea man arriving, certain players were expected to be forced out of Mourinho’s plans, one of whom is midfield stalwart Marouane Fellaini. Reports on the weekend had suggested the Belgian international was set for a move to Turkey. Nonetheless, just a day later, and despite the arrival of his new team-mate, he looks set to stay at Old Trafford.
As reported by Sky Sports, Galatasaray had been interested in the Belgian’s services but Mourinho has quashed any speculation linking his man to the Turkish club:
“It’s easier for Galatasaray to get me than Marouane if they need a manager, they have a chance, but Marouane? Forget it. He is too important to me.”
But is Mourinho right to retain the former Everton man, with Nemanja Matic joining the club?
Fellaini appeared 28 times in the Premier League last season, making 14 starts. Despite his regular appearances in the side, he did little to suggest he had a future at the Red Devils. Nonetheless, he successfully earned Mourinho’s trust with his dogged performances in the centre of the park.
His natural height that gives him good body strength, and his aerial ability is a factor that allows the United boss to play a different tactic during games, without making personnel changes.
The Belgian midfielder allows United to play a more direct style when needed, especially against teams that park 11 men behind the ball when visiting Old Trafford.
The 29-year-old won 74% of his headed duels last season, while also maintaining a fairly solid 86% pass accuracy. Although he often plays a simple game, it helps his side maintain the ball and gives them a basis to build on.
Another aspect of Fellaini’s game that makes him worthwhile keeping at the club is his ability to do the dirty work. Along with making 55 clearances and 29 interceptions, the Belgian fouled his man on 67% of his duels.
While it may not appear a positive side to his game, his dirty tactics break up opposition attacks and disrupt the flow of their attacks. He has a knack for executing these discrete fouls, having only been booked six times for felling an opponent last campaign.
Despite not appearing like a ‘Manchester United style of player’, Fellaini is certainly an option that Jose Mourinho looks favourably upon. Ultimately, he is an asset well worth keeping at Old Trafford, with, or without, Nemanja Matic in the side.