We could sit here and argue until we’re red in the face about whether or not Matic deserved a second yellow for his tackle late in the game against Watford. At the end of the day, it’s done now and there’s nothing that any of us can do about it. Hey, if it was one of the Scousers players they would have petitions going by now, the lot, but that’s a story for another day. Of course, that now means that Matic will miss the game against Wolves this weekend which probably means that he will play midweek against Young Boys. Fred or Herrera will probably replace him. We can worry about that at the weekend. First, let’s see how Matic performed against The Hornets, red card aside.
Let me begin by saying that I’ve no idea how they only got him down as committing one foul when he picked up two yellow cards, both for fouls. Never mind. The above heat map indicates that Matic was predominately deployed on the left of the central midfield three. One thing that is particularly impressive is how dark the colour is in the United penalty area. There was more than one instance, which was picked up on Match Of The Day 2, where Matic and Fellaini slotted in between Lindelof and Smalling. How do you replace the Serb, though?
As I’ve already touched on, you’re probably looking at one of Herrera or Fred to take his place. Alternatively, Mourinho could switch up the system and match Wolves’ (3-4-3/5-4-1, dependant on which way you look at it) and bring in another centre-half. Saying that, I’m not too sure how well that will go down with the Old Trafford faithful. So, away from the obvious options of Fred and Herrera, who else could be considered?
Look at this busy little bastard. He was hauled off at half-time of the mediocre Brighton display and hasn’t been seen since. He offers many of the same attributes of Matic and while he may not be as defensively sound as the Serb, Pereira has got more drive with the ball. Especially if Mourinho sticks with 4-3-3, it may be wise to play someone who is slightly more attack-minded because Neves and Moutinho in the Wolves midfield will have a field day otherwise. They can’t be afforded space under any circumstance.
In summary, losing Matic might inadvertently be a blessing in disguise. It remains to be seen if that is the case, however, the selection of Matic’s replacement might be the difference between three points at the weekend. You might laugh now, nonetheless, if Herrera is selected and Wolves win 1-0, I’ll be sure to tell you that I told you so.
Until the next time.