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13th Nov 2018

Manchester United players are growing frustrated at José Mourinho’s reluctance to drop Nemanja Matić

Man United players are becoming increasingly frustrated by José Mourinho's reluctance to drop the underperforming Nemanja Matić

Reuben Pinder

And who can blame them?

In the summer of 2017, when Nemanja Matić joined Manchester United from Chelsea, the general consensus was that Chelsea had made a huge mistake. Why would they sell such a solid defensive midfielder to a direct rival? People were confused, and understandably so given Matić’s exceptional defensive displays in title winning campaigns under José Mourinho in 2014/15 and Antonio Conte in 2016/17.

However, it now seems that Chelsea sold at exactly the right time, while his stock was still high but his powers beginning to wane. Matić is now a shadow of the powerhouse who returned to these shores in January 2014. His ponderous, lethargic style of play that relies on physicality perfectly mirrors the problems United are facing as a team right now. And yet, he starts every week.

This has begun to annoy his teammates at United, according to a report from the TimesSome members of the United dressing room feel that Matić should be dropped and have grown frustrated at Mourinho’s reluctance to do just that.

The Serbian midfielder was at fault for İlkay Gündoğan’s goal in the Manchester derby on Sunday which made the score 3-1 to Man City, as he allowed the German to control the ball unchallenged just seven yards from United’s goal, before Gündoğan’s slotted the ball past David De Gea.

But his ‘untouchable’ status in the United squad has caused friction in the dressing room, with some players reportedly wanting him dropped.

The problem for Mourinho is, who would he bring in to replace him?

On the opening day of the Premier League season, Mourinho deployed Andreas Pereira in a holding midfield position, but the Brazilian has hardly been seen since.

He could move Ander Herrera back into a more defensive position, but the Spaniard might struggle playing as a single pivot due to his tendency to charge forward in pursuit of winning the ball.

Marouane Fellaini is another option, I suppose.

But the crux of the issue is that United do not possess any other natural defensive midfielders, which is probably why Matić has not yet been dropped. If reports of a £100m January war chest are true, they’d probably be best off investing it in a replacement for Matić – the benefits would be plentiful.