Nemanja Matic has admitted that his performances for Manchester United last season were nowhere near good enough.
The Serbian, having enjoyed a solid first season, suffered many moments of ignominy at the base of midfield throughout the 2018-19.
Too many times – one example, off the top of my head, being Derby County at home – Matic was completely overrun by teams which targeted his lack of mobility, completing exposing a frail back four.
Speaking ahead of Man United’s pre-season clash with Inter Milan, the midfielder underscored that he had to perform better.
When Matic plays poorly, it looks even worse than it actually is. The slowness of his turn, the flat-footed posture, watching as blurs go past him, another generation of new footballers seemingly ready to leave Matic in their vapour trail, forever. It looks like a dad playing against some actually-quite-good 18-year-olds.
When he is in commanding form, however, the opposite can be true. Matic at his best can be all-encompassing, seemingly covering each blade of grass with ease, like a Balkan steamroller but with a smooth finish. His passing, regardless of form, is always smooth, somewhat underrated even.
The key for Solskjaer must be rotation. Jose Mourinho failed to do that last season – out of lack of trust in others – and the Serbian ended up with burnout. Solskjaer has to learn from his predecessor’s mistakes.