Opinion: Is Nemanja Matic currently Manchester United's biggest liability?
Manchester United find themselves in an abyss of their own making at the moment. Their defensive woes have been well documented and contrary to popular belief, their attackers haven't scored too many goals either. Manager Jose Mourinho's head is on the chopping block but the Portuguese has done all that can be possibly done. It is the players who need to stand accountable for their below-par performances.
The 2-2 draw to Southampton at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday was a classic example of what United could have achieved if they had gelled well together as a team or learnt to feed off each other's energy. Ander Herrera was the only bright spot in a dismal showing by some of the biggest names in English club football.
The woeful performance at St Mary's brought to notice another player who was uncomfortable and highly undependable. Nemanja Matic played as a centre-back in Chris Smalling's and Victor Lindelof's absence but as he has done throughout this season in his normal midfield position, the big Serb flattered to deceive. It is astonishing that he still remains Jose Mourinho's most trusted lieutenant in the team and perhaps it is time that the Red Devils finally play the multi-million-pound costing Brazilian Fred in the central midfielder role.
We spoke about Nemanja Matic's possible exclusion from the United side but nothing has come of it since. The man regularly loses the ball in midfield, makes no wholesome tackles and loses himself in the melee of the centre of the park. His defensive abilities have a question mark hanging around them too. Matic's lack of pace and indecisiveness often costs United a chance to go forward and push the ball into the attacking third.
It is not as if United have no players willing to take Matic's place in the team; it's just that Mourinho is not willing to trust them. Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera and Fred can all do the job as good as the next guy but Matic, whom Mourinho brought in from Chelsea in 2017, has got the nod more often than not.
United's clash against Arsenal on Wednesday night will give us a glimpse as to in which direction the team wants to go. Persisting with Matic is not only harmful but will give troubling results for the team. Mourinho must take a call soon because Nemanja Matic's current form is a baggage that a team as big as Manchester United cannot afford to carry.