Wednesday 13 December 2017

Jose Mourinho hails Nemanja Matic's performance against Real Madrid

Jose Mourinho's men were beaten in Macedonia
Jose Mourinho's men were beaten in Macedonia

Jose Mourinho praised debutant Nemanja Matic's display and the way Manchester United's new boys continue to settle into his "amazing group".

Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku joined the Serbian midfielder in making their competitive debuts in Tuesday's UEFA Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid.

United lost 2-1 to the LaLiga giants but Mourinho remained upbeat after the Skopje encounter, picking out Matic in particular for praise.

Despite having only played 45 minutes for the club in last week's friendly against Sampdoria, the £35million signing impressed throughout the whole match in sweltering Macedonia.

"I think he played really well," Mourinho said of the 29-year-old defensive midfielder, who he coached at Chelsea.

"I think in the moments where they were moving more the ball, of course it was difficult for us in the midfield.

"But in good moments he was really good and especially in our dominance in the second half after the 2-0.

"In our period of dominance he was what we want him to be: to move the ball in a simple way, to give balance to the team, to start building from the back.

"He is a player with great experience, many years at the highest level and good experience, good stability."

Fellow summer signing Lindelof struggled at times in a United defence that was missing several players through injury or suspension against Zinedine Zidane's Champions League winners.

Lukaku, signed from Everton for an initial £75million, wasted a glorious chance shortly after Isco doubled Madrid's advantage but made no mistake with his next opportunity after Keylor Navas parried a Matic drive.

"It is difficult job to play against a team that dominates the possession - and he tried," Mourinho said of his striker.

"Of course he missed a chance with an open goal, but he scored his goal.

"He had a good fight against two good central defender and I am happy with this period and how he fits into - I am never tired to repeat - an amazing group."

Mourinho believes United's players - old and new - head into Sunday's Premier League opener against West Ham with "a positive feeling and great experience".

Phil Jones and Eric Bailly come back into contention for the Old Trafford clash as their suspension only covers European matches, swelling the Red Devils' defensive options.

Mourinho played a three-man defence at times in the Super Cup, just as he has in some pre-season games, and is ready to deploy it domestically as well.

"We can but we can also play with four in the back," he said.

"We used the pre-season to work since day one, to work and to try to improve things that we already do.

"To try to develop things that we normally don't do and in this moment there are so many teams playing with three in the back and wing-backs that probably sometimes we have to play that way.

"We just develop that and we played in a couple of matches, Sampdoria and I think the LA Galaxy, because it is something during the season we are maybe going to do."

Irish Independent Sport Star Awards

Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.

Press Association

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport