Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho had a few fond words to say about midfielder Nemanja Matic following his debut in the pre-season friendly against Serie A side Sampdoria.
The Red Devils won the Dublin clash by a 2-1 score with goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata sealing the win. Following the clash, Mourinho spoke about the Serbian’s performance, he said: “A lonely pre-season is always a lonely pre-season – a player can be professional and work hard but football is collective and when you train alone, you train just a part of what you are as a player.
“The ay he plays, he uses his brain but of course he needs physicality to be on top of his game. So he needs time but his experience, intelligence and genius in the way he thinks about football will help him to be ready sooner rather than later.”
Despite having no pre-season practice prior to his Old Trafford move, Matic put in a commanding presence alongside the likes of Paul Pogba, and Mourinho feels the 29-year-old is a ‘genius’ in able to work out his duties on the playing field. The Serbia international won the Premier League title with Mourinho back during the 2014/15 season, and he is aiming to create more history with the Red Devils, who celebrated a Europa League and EFL Cup double last term.
With Michael Carrick approaching the twilight of his career, Mourinho had wanted an experienced campaigner in his ranks, and Matic could be the perfect answer, although he does have an odd performance here and there. Manchester United take on Real Madrid in the European Super Cup next Tuesday in what would be their first competitive game, and Matic could be in line for a start after he showed no signs of rust at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday.