Since Jose Mourinho surprisingly secured the services of midfield enforcer Nemanja Matic from Antonio Conte’s Chelsea – with the Blues manager supposedly a bystander in the £40m transfer – both sides have been dramatically affected and it’s worth examining how.
Many people are attributing Manchester United’s assertive start to this campaign on all fronts, with the acquisition of £75m man Romelu Lukaku and his impact on the side. What is often overlooked, is the fact that his predecessor Zlatan Ibrahimovic, managed an impressive 28 goals in his first season and was shortlisted for PFA Player of the Year.
In contrast Chelsea’s lacklustre opening to the season has been loosely connected to the departure of high profile talisman Diego Costa, despite the efforts of fellow Spaniard Alvaro Morata – scoring six and assisting three in nine matches, in Costa’s absence.
Perhaps it’s fair to say the explanation for this change in fortunes lies elsewhere. Maybe in the form of the big Serbian, whom Conte himself described as “a great loss.”
The Italian’s loss was certainly Mourinho’s gain, who claimed he “always thought he [Matic] could be a perfect player for Manchester United.” The Red-Devils boss was in search of someone to sure up the midfield and screen the defence: “He is a player I call a stability player” and Matic has certainly excelled in the role.
"Whoever made the decision at #CFC to sell Matic needs sacking"
@Fizzer18 on 'the poorest decision I've ever seen in the Premier League' pic.twitter.com/qDcFJuRiGQ
— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) October 31, 2017
Chelsea are showing anything but defensive stability in recent times and the lack of midfield dominance is beginning to expose cracks people weren’t aware of last season.
Despite the £40m addition of Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco, the Blues are still struggling to assert midfield dominance over their opponents and are conceding regularly. This was glaringly exposed by Roma on Tuesday, when Chelsea’s lack of midfield control, resulted in a comprehensive 3-0 defeat, as Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman orchestrated the pace of the whole 90 minutes.
Matic on the other hand is excelling at providing control and balance to his new side. The veteran midfielder has covered more ground than any United player in 9 of 10 matches in the Premier League and currently boasts the highest number of balls recovered in the league this campaign.
|Player||Defensive Errors||Interceptions||Clearances||Pass Completion|
It’s very evident at this stage that members of the Chelsea contingency under-estimated Matic’s effect on the side. Perhaps they decided age was an issue, as 23 year old Bakayoko came straight into the Serbian’s position.
The Frenchman certainly looks one for the future and is developing constantly, but in the mean-time it looks as though Conte’s side may have some serious adjusting to do, to establish balance in their team.
After considering multiple facets of the move and looking at the results, it seems as though the London outfit were too hasty in their decision to sell. However, Chelsea’s loss is United’s gain