The 29-year-old, who hadn’t played any minutes over the summer prior to the clash in Dublin, completed his move to Old Trafford just two days ago and took part in his first training session yesterday.
But despite Matic’s lack of time around the first team and considerable lack of minutes, he looked instantly comfortable at the base of United’s midfield, calmly and assuredly stroking the ball around the pitch as Mourinho’s men dominated the first half.
And Mourinho, speaking after the game, was full of praise for his latest signing.
A solid defensive midfielder doesn’t attract any attention. And Matic’s display, in that sense, was wonderfully unspectacular. Fewer players in the Premier League – if any – master the art of dealing with the ugly but necessary aspects of a game better than the Serbian.
His positional sense, despite his last game being in May, was spot on, seemingly always there in space to receive the ball and seamlessly move play along.
Talk of Matic’s move has largely centred around what it means for Paul Pogba, but the midfielder’s addition is just as important in a holistic sense: United will tick along with much more fluidity and control this season with the indomitable Serb at the core of proceedings.