Champions League is a great opportunity for us to see where we are, says Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic

Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic, who has been with Manchester United since 2017, spoke on United’s aspirations this season, new signing Donny van de Beek among a few other aspects.

FP Sports October 29, 2020 13:19:00 IST
Champions League is a great opportunity for us to see where we are, says Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic

Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg, left, is fouled by Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic during the Champions League group H soccer match between Manchester United and RB Leipzig, at the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

It may be still early days in the season, but Manchester United have already had a shaky start in the Premier League. Following an opening day loss to Crystal Palace in September, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men scraped past Brighton and Hove Albion a week later to clinch a last-gasp 3-2 win. However, United’s defensive woes remained far from solved after the 6-1 loss to Tottenham at Old Trafford on 4 October.

Their latest outing in the Premier League came against Chelsea at home, which ended in an unimpressive 0-0 draw. This result meant that United failed to win their first three home games in the top-flight for the first time since the 1972-73 season.

They have been a much different side in the UEFA Champions League, though. While they edged Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in their opener earlier in October, Marcus Rashford’s hat-trick inspired them to a 5-0 win over German outfit RB Leipzig in their latest match on Wednesday.

Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic, who has been with the club since 2017, spoke on United’s aspirations this season, new signing Donny van de Beek among a few other aspects.

Before the start of the 2020-21 season, Matic had admitted that his side had ‘dropped points too easily’. He said that there we no more excuses and that United were going all guns blazing for titles.

“Yeah, as you know last season we lost some games we should have won. But this season, there is no more excuses, we have to go with everything to try to compete for the title and trophies. We’re in the Champions League too, so we have to be Man Utd. This is where Man Utd belongs. So, we drop points already, yes, but this can happen — we have to be — the next game is always more important,” Matic told Star Sports Select channel during an interaction.

United sit pretty on top of Group H in the Champions League with two wins out of two, and the former Benfica star said that the team was mentally and physically ready for the challenge.

“Yeah it was very important. After the lockdown, we started the league and our main target was top four. We played some fantastic football — we didn’t lose any game after lockdown, we finished third which I think was a good achievement for us. But now it’s time to take a step forward — to go for something more because Man Utd in the past was used to play for trophies.”

“Champions League is a great opportunity for us to see where we are, if we can compete with the best teams too, so I’m sure the guys are ready mentally and physically. We have to give everything for these trophies,” Matic continued.

New signing Dutchman Donny van de Beek is yet to start a Premier League game for United but Matic felt that his side has signed a talented player for the future.

Champions League is a great opportunity for us to see where we are says Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been criticised for a slow and inconsistent start to the season, but according to Matic, he and his teammates have been learning a lot from the club legend. AP

“It’s hard to say because we’ve just had a few sessions together. But what I saw and know from Ajax, he’s a great talent, played in a big club, did well in the champions league. So I think we’ve signed a very good player for the future and we will see how he’s going to adapt to our team. He’s a good player, still very young and as a person is fantastic too,” Matic added.

Solskjaer has been criticised for a slow and inconsistent start to the season, but according to the Serbian, he and his teammates have been learning a lot from the club legend.

“Yeah. He’s improving every day with us. And also us with him. When you have a person who knows the club like he does - he’s been here for a long time, it’s so important he knows the size of the club. We always talk with him — every meeting he mentions Man Utd is something special — Man Utd asks more of you, so you have to win the games. So we are learning like with every coach. Me personally, I try and learn something different from every coach, because each has different qualities that I can learn from.”

Matic added that showcasing competitiveness is everything.

“I mentioned in one interview that we cannot allow that to happen again. Or at any time because for me, it’s not acceptable - 33 points is a lot for me and as I said, we have to give everything to fight for the title, to be competitive until the end.

“Who is going to win the title I do not know from this point but we have to compete, be there until the end of the season to bring success back. For me it’s very important to start winning games and not to allow it. In the first ten games, teams show if they have the capacity to fight for the title, so in the next few games, we have to win points and show it wasn’t us on Monday and do more,” said the 32-year-old.

Matic signed a new three-year deal in July that will keep him at United till 2023. When asked about what he is looking forward to, he once again stressed upon the aspirations of winning trophies.

“Yeah, three years!!! I always like to hear the opinion of the people who I work with you know? So, Ole and his staff, people who I work with, people from the club and if they want to give you a new contract, that means you’re doing something good and they believe in your work. So I’m happy here of course, I always demand more of myself and players — I want to win big trophies with this club,” he concluded.

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