Nemanja Matic has reacted to making a sensational Premier League debut for Manchester United against West Ham United, insisting that this performance was just the start.
The Serbian enjoyed an impressive competitive debut against Real Madrid earlier this week soon after arriving from Chelsea for a fee of £40m.
And he was an imperious figure against West Ham, tearing across every blade of grass as he dictated proceedings with complete confidence throughout.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, the 29-year-old was clearly pleased with how his first outing at Old Trafford in a red shirt unfolded.
“It was a really important game for us to start well with the three points,” he said. “They were very compact but after the first goal we had more space. I am very happy for the team and we we will have more confidence going into the next game.
“The manager told me I have to do my job, Paul has to do his. I am very happy everyone gave their best against a good team. We have to continue to work like this.”
Gary Neville said it a few times whilst commentating: why on earth would Chelsea sell Matic to United? His absence was painfully clear at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as Antonio Conte slumped to defeat. And his presence at Old Trafford a day later, more importantly, was galvanising.
United have much more than a powerful spine at the base of midfield with valuable Premier League experience: they have a technician, somebody adept at manipulating the ball in tight areas and turning the screw on opponents, often taking two of them out of the game with a sublime turn and pass. He is by no means just a midfield brute.
That said, his enormous physical presence is crucial, and not just for putting players on the ground. Matic’s sheer reach, both with his feet and his mind in finding space, allows others to push further forward and gives the whole dynamic a smoother, more structured feel. The difference he has made already, both to Chelsea and United, is enormous.