Nemanja Matic has made it clear that Manchester United need to replicate the resolve seen against Tottenham Hotspur against other big sides this season if they are to challenge for the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho‘s men notably struggled against the top four last season, scoring just once away from home, and picked up further criticism following a dreary 0-0 draw at Anfield earlier this month.
But they secured an important win against an in-form Tottenham Hotspur side at Old Trafford last weekend, with Anthony Martial‘s strike nine minutes from time deciding a ferocious, scrappy encounter.
And Matic, who impressed in midfield once again, made it clear following the game that United would need to maintain the same resilience against the very best this season.
“They are very important,” he said. “I think that the title, you win in the let’s say ‘small games’ but also if you want to be first you have to win games like this, especially when you play at home you cannot drop points.”
“It’s important for us, it’s a lot of pressure on us but we managed to score and to win. They also had one great chance, we also had [Jesse] Lingard on the counter-attack.
“I think the game was equal but maybe we deserve it a little more.”
United didn’t beat any top four side last season until December – a 1-0 win over Spurs, funnily enough – but by then they were way off the pace at the top, beleaguered by constant failings against lesser sides and general teething problems under their new boss.
But this win can act as an important marker – a reference point, so to speak – going forward this season. United won this game in emphatic Mourinho fashion, creating a blurred, frenetic battle lacking much discernible structure and then, almost out of nowhere, providing the killer blow.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was Mourinho all over, and that in itself is an instrument United can make great use of this season.