The 2018-19 season was not a great one for Nemanja Matic. The Serbia international was for the first time in his career made to look at his performances as clearly declining, as the defensive midfielder was far from his peak days at Chelsea and also worse off than the level he was at in his first season at Manchester United.
The soon-to-be 31-year-old joined Man United in 2017 and his first season was a good one. Albeit some poorer performances at the end of that campaign, Matic did enjoy his time at Old Trafford, clearly improving a vulnerable defence of the team. But, his second season proved to be a much tougher one. Matic started becoming slower and slower, especially without the ball at his feet and he became unable to single-handedly stop opposition attacks through the middle.
His best performances in 2019 came when he was situated in a double pivot alongside Ander Herrera and maybe such a solution is a necessity these for having him in the first team. Matic is not the young player he used to be and his qualities will probably need to be accentuated in a pairing with another defensive midfielder.
Appearances across all competitions
Nemanja Matic played 38 matches across all competitions in 2018-19. He made 28 starts in the Premier League, being one of the most used players in the league, or spending exactly 2441 minutes on the pitch. He also added six Champions League matches, three in the FA Cup and one in League Cup. Matic scored only goal last season, in a 3-1 win against Huddersfield.
The Serbian missed just three matches due to muscle injury, but he also accumulated 11 yellow cards in all competitions. Although a defensive midfielder, that does indicated a little bit how much Matic sometimes had trouble catching opposition players.
Did he perform above or below the expectations?
Matic performed below the expectations. It was not a great season – as it was not for most of Man United players – and this season he will need a fresh start. There was no World Cup this time around and no shorter pre-season and if he stays healthy, he might show some improvement. Matic’s performances last season were quite poor at the end of the campaign, once he even came out in media blaming himself for a terrible display, taking all the responsibility on himself.
But Man United fans will need more than apologies this season and knowing his character, Matic will be ready to show Premier League fans he still has something to offer.
Will he be a part of Manchester United during the 2019-20 season?
Yes, Nemanja Matic will be part of Manchester United during the 2019-20 season. The towering Serbian will most probably continue screening the defence next season, in the starting lineup, as Man United are especially short on men in that area of the pitch. Matic will be one of the leaders of this team, although he is a quieter type of person, but his presence on the pitch will need to be felt now that the younger guard of players is coming in.