Nemanja Matic explains what it’s like to play under Jose Mourinho

by Leo Nieboer

Nemanja Matic has spoken out about what it’s like to play under Jose Mourinho, hailing the Portuguese as the best manager he has ever worked with.

The Serbian was signed by Mourinho back in 2014 for Chelsea and went on to claim two Premier League titles in three years at Stamford Bridge.

And he has made a superb start to life at Old Trafford after reuniting with Mourinho back in August, producing a series of commanding performances at the base of midfield.

Speaking in an interview earlier this week, Matic was quick to express his delight at once again working with the boss at Old Trafford.

“Mourinho is a brand, and the best coach I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “Sometimes it isn’t easy to work with him, because he always demands more. Even when you play the best match in your career, he considers that you can play better in the next match.

“I cooperated excellently with him at Chelsea, and the fact that Mourinho is the coach at Manchester was the decisive factor in my choosing my new environment.

“Privately he’s completely different from the way he is perceived by the general public. This is a man who possesses all human virtues. He’s not at all cold or conceited, as he is presented in the media. He has created an excellent group of players with huge potential, and everything is there for us to achieve good results.

“I don’t want to talk about the goals of the club, but when I mention Manchester United I think the ambitions are clear to everyone. We will do our best to achieve the results that previous generations had.”

What Matic notes about Mourinho on a personal level is interesting. One always tends to wonder when watching Mourinho in full attack mode during press conferences: is he like that at home?

But the Serbian makes it clear that this is more of a pseudo-persona, designed specifically to centre attention around the last controversial thing he said and allowing his players to work without the spotlight hanging over them.

To Mourinho, football is not a way of life. Life is an entirely separate thing that happens once he gets home, you sense. But when work begins, the 54-year-old creates a kind of drama revolving around himself that forms part of a wider cabaret of tactics both on and off the pitch that, from the inside especially, is truly something to behold.

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