Sport Soccer

Friday 18 October 2019

Nemanja Matic feels there is room for youth and experience in Man Utd first team

The 31-year-old made his first start of the season on Saturday.

Nemanja Matic made his first start of the season on Saturday (Martin Rickett/PA)
Nemanja Matic made his first start of the season on Saturday (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer

Nemanja Matic is excited to see young talent getting a chance at Manchester United – but the midfielder hopes there is also room for experience as he looks for more game time.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men ended a three-match winless run by overcoming previously unbeaten Leicester at Old Trafford, where Marcus Rashford’s early spot-kick was the difference in a 1-0 triumph.

The match-winning forward was joined by fellow 21-year-olds Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the line-up on Saturday, when Andreas Pereira, 23, and Scott McTominay, 22, also started.

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Manchester United’s line-up mixed youth with experience (Martin Rickett/PA)

Tahith Chong, just 19, came off the bench for a United side which has an accent on youth under Solskjaer – something Matic, one of the few older heads, likes to see.

“I don’t believe in age – good players or bad players,” the midfielder, one of three starters in their 30s, said.

“It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 35, so I think who played today deserved to play.

“The most important thing was the team took three points and what we did today is great, and I am happy for the young players.

“They get the opportunity to play. It’s not always normal in big clubs that you get that opportunity so young and Manchester United is giving opportunity to the guys who grew up here in the academy and that’s good.

“They have to use that because in big clubs they don’t give always opportunities to the young guys because of the pressure, the results. Everyone wants to win.

“They buy ready players to win so it’s good for them.

“I think in this season the people from the club they can see who is ready to play already in a high level.

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Daniel James, right, has made an impressive start to his Manchester United career (Martin Rickett/PA)

“It doesn’t matter if they are 18 or 25 or 35, we can see if they are ready or not and then for the future to decide what to do.

“As I said, I am happy for them. I like to see young players on the pitch and hopefully they can bring us some fresh energy for the rest of the season.”

Energy and options will be needed as United juggle domestic and European exertions.

The Red Devils kick off their Europa League campaign at home to Astana on Thursday, when Matic will be hoping to make his second start of the season.

  • Astana (H), Thu Sep 19 - Europa League
  • West Ham (A), Sun Sep 22 - Premier League
  • Rochdale (H), Wed Sep 25 - Carabao Cup
  • Arsenal (H), Mon Sep 30 - Premier League
  • AZ Alkmaar (A), Thu Oct 3 - Europa League

The 31-year-old came in for the injured Paul Pogba against Leicester and was subject of speculation over his future in the summer.

“Of course (it has been frustrating),” Matic said. “I want to play, I always give my best for the team.

“The coach is the man who picks the team and when you are on the bench you are not happy, but I am trying to convince him to change his mind and pick me to play.

“The season is long. Today as you saw I played, and we won the game.

“I am happy so we will see in the future what the coach will decide.

“I am ready. In the last 10 years I have played in a high level and every game I try to do my best to help the team because I think I am a team player and I can help a lot I think.”

Put to Matic that he does not seem the kind of person to knock on a manager’s door, he said: “No, I never did that.

“I show my quality on the pitch, in training sessions and in games. This is not my way to fight for the place.”

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