Paul Scholes has expressed his amazement at seeing Chelsea sell Nemanja Matic to Manchester United this summer.
Antonio Conte appeared to have written off any chance of selling Matic to Mourinho after the Portuguese pinched Romelu Lukaku from under his nose in July.
But the Italian was eventually forced to let Matic leave for £40m and the deficit at Stamford Bridge couldn’t have been clearer on Saturday, with Chelsea falling 3-0 behind to Burnley within 42 minutes of their first game of the season, going down to nine men in the process, whilst Matic delivered a sublime performance during Man United’s 4-0 win over West Ham United.
And Scholes, speaking on BT Sport, was quick to express his surprise at seeing Chelsea sell such an important player to a rival.
“I really like the Matic signing, that was the one that surprised me a little bit,” he said.
“It makes you wonder ‘why did Chelsea sell him?’ I think he brings aggression to United’s midfield, which is something they have been lacking.”
Chelsea and United may only be two games in to their new campaigns, but the difference in each midfield couldn’t be starker.
Conte’s side boasted an ineffaceable core last season, with Matic and N’Golo Kante providing a solid platform from which the likes of Eden Hazard, Pedro and Diego Costa could do damage. Against Burnley, however, they looked miserably disjointed, leaving gaps everywhere as Sean Dyche’s men – who only managed seven points on the road last season – were allowed to stroke the ball all across the pitch.
United, however, with Matic and Paul Pogba running the show in midfield, provided a stark contrast to the ponderous football of last season. The Serbian’s influence was invaluable. His capacity for bossing players around and allowing others to find pockets of space further forward didn’t just let United’s midfield dominate, but indeed helped the whole attacking unit tick with more efficiency.
As I’ve said, it is still early days. Conte’s side were brilliant last season and shouldn’t be written off whatsoever, but the Italian certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed watching Mourinho’s men in action on Sunday.