The Serbian midfielder is virtually indispensable in the eyes of Mourinho: he made 35 league starts last season and has been selected for ten games in a row, with his last rest coming for the 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Matic’s continued selection in recent weeks has exacerbated his slump in form – a notion highlighted by his poor marking of Ilkay Gundogan in the lead-up to his goal in the Manchester derby.
And according to Hirst, writing in an exclusive, Mourinho’s continued selection of Matic has become a source of frustration in the dressing room, with many players convinced the midfielder is selected regardless of form.
Mourinho clearly feels as if the presence of Matic is fundamental to his team functioning properly. And you could argue that this deep-rooted dependency on one player – at the expense of others like Fred or Andreas Pereira – is more toxic for the team that Matic’s form itself.
The 55-year-old has recently profited from seeing his team perform without Romelu Lukaku, another player regarded as untouchable. You get the feeling that a similar process needs to happen with Matic.