Manchester United fans were full of praise for what was a sublime performance by from Nemanja Matic during their side’s 4-0 win over West Ham United in the Premier League.
The Serbian enjoyed a sensational competitive debut against Real Madrid last Tuesday, just eight days after completing a £40m move to Old Trafford from Chelsea.
And against West Ham, in a game that demanded a result, he was utterly sublime from start to finish, powerfully dictating proceedings from the base of midfield and always acting as a reliable springboard from which to start attacks.
Supporters were quick to heap praise on Jose Mourinho‘s latest singing as Man United made a perfect start to the campaign.
Pogba and Matic. Pure class in midfield
— Abdul (@Abdulghaleiw) August 13, 2017
— Greig Duncan (@GreigJDuncan) August 13, 2017
— Slim Kabeja (@ThatGuySquib) August 13, 2017
Matic is on another level ????⚽️
— Danny Booth (@dannybooth11) August 13, 2017
Matic has officially won me over with his performance today. Top drawer stuff ????
— Ukachukwu (@Bishopk60) August 13, 2017
Why did Chelsea sell Matic to us? ???? he's quality #MUNWHM
— Alex Farmer (@alexcfarmer) August 13, 2017
— Richard David Owen (@richiedavidowen) August 13, 2017
Managers often view the pitch in zones and base their tactics off how to build through these imaginary intersections. This makes sense. It gives the game a sense of structure and demands discipline. No surprises that Louis van Gaal saw the game through this lens.
And what has become clear following that hammering of Slaven Bilic’s side is that Matic, somehow, is a zone in itself. To get anywhere on the pitch you need to get past the Serbian, but nobody in black could.
The 29-year-old’s sheer stature and awareness of what surrounds him creates an entirely new dynamic to how United shape up – both defensively and offensively. They look more balanced as a team, with Matic’s immense reach and omnipresence allowing others – Pogba especially – to find pockets of space further forward.
This was a scintillating attacking performance, and talk will naturally surround Romelu Lukaku’s performance, but everything started with the former Chelsea man, who patrolled West Ham and turned them into his plaything. I think we all owe a big thank you to Antonio Conte for his generosity.