EPL

Matic: Man Utd must still improve to challenge for Premier League title

By Sports Desk July 12, 2020

Nemanja Matic is enthused by the young talent that has fired Manchester United's revival but believes more improvement is needed to challenge for the Premier League title.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are enjoying an unbeaten run in all competitions that stretches back to January 22.

Since the Premier League's return from lockdown, United have been in electrifying form, with breakout displays from teenage forward Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes' galvanising effect to the fore.

Matic claimed Premier League glory in 2014-15 and 2016-17 at Chelsea and feels United and their exciting attack must continue to realise their potential more fully if they are to dethrone Liverpool.

"I have to be honest: it was not always easy to be in our team because we had a lot of young players, with no experience of playing at the highest level," he told Stats Perform News.

"But that was a period of transition of our team and I think in the last few years many players matured a lot.

"I have to mention [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial, Greenwood, so many players matured a lot. They know they have a lot of responsibility; they play every game.

"I am happy to see them improving, taking responsibility and I am sure this team can only improve.

"It was difficult for us in the past because we were inconsistent, but I think the team is ready, more experienced. If we can improve 10 or 20 per cent more then we can challenge for the title next season."

Chelsea's 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United on Saturday has left the door ajar to the top four and United will go above Frank Lampard's men if they beat Southampton on Monday.

"We are fighting, we are playing, we want to finish in the top four. There are only four games left but we are there," Matic said.

"We are fighting with Chelsea and Leicester [City] for that position, we know it's going to be hard, but we will try and win every game until the end. We want to win the Europa League and the FA Cup."

Chelsea are also in United's way in next weekend's FA Cup semi-finals, while a 5-0 first-leg lead over LASK means they can expect to contest a Europa League quarter-final against Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen next month.

Lifting the Europa League, as they did in 2016-17, of course represents another route into the Champions League if required.

"I don't think it adds more pressure, but it does give you more chances to play in the Champions League," Matic said.

"I think it's great what they did that clubs have an opportunity to fight for the Champions League.

"Also, a trophy is a trophy and we want to win, we can show our kids one day, every trophy is important to us."

The likelihood is that VAR decisions will come under the microscope once again as United contest the closing weeks of the season with all to play for.

Nevertheless, Matic is broadly a fan of the much-maligned system, although he feels breaks in play could be speeded up.

"I think it is better with VAR," he added. "Before, when referees made mistakes, it was finished.

"Now with the VAR they reduce the mistakes. There will always be mistakes because we are human, but I believe it will reduce the mistakes, so I support it.

"It needs to be faster. In the game against Bournemouth [United's recent 5-2 Premier League win] we had to wait too long.

"It's not easy to decide quickly but if they could improve more then it would be perfect."

Related items

  • Wellington Phoenix 1-1 Brisbane Roar: Hooper steals point for Nix Wellington Phoenix 1-1 Brisbane Roar: Hooper steals point for Nix

    Scott McDonald continued his hot streak in front of goal, but another former Celtic man ensured Wellington Phoenix emerged from their A-League encounter against Brisbane Roar with a 1-1 draw.

    McDonald turned into space on the edge of the Wellington box in the 61st minute to fire home to score his sixth goal in as many matches.

    Gary Hooper missed a glorious chance to equalise from close range with the goal at his mercy but made amends inside the final 10 minutes when Liberato Cacace's header came back off the post.

    The Phoenix remain a place and two points ahead of Brisbane in third with one game of the regular season remaining.

  • Ajax confirm coronavirus cases Ajax confirm coronavirus cases

    Ajax have confirmed a number of players and staff have had coronavirus after De Telegraaf reported 13 cases for the Eredivisie champions.

    According to the newspaper, 13 people from approximately 90 tested were shown to have antibodies against COVID-19 following blood tests conducted in June.

    Players and coaches from the Ajax first-team squad, Jong Ajax and staff associated with both teams were tested for antibodies and continue to undergo weekly coronavirus tests.

    Ajax's head of communications Miel Brinkhuis told De Telegraaf that these provisions indicate there are no current cases of COVID-19 among Erik ten Hag's squad.

    "It is true that a number of players and staff members have had the coronavirus," he said, while declining to confirm the identify or number of cases for legal reasons. 

    "I want to emphasise that there is currently no one with corona and - except Andre Onana, who has mild ankle complaints - everyone was present on the training on Tuesday."

    In February, Ajax played Madrid-based Getafe in a two-legged Europa League tie, around the time of the first confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Spanish mainland.

    Those fixtures represent a possible explanation for the reportedly high number of antibodies found among the Ajax squad.

    Ajax are set to begin their bid for a third consecutive Eredivisie title away to Sparta Rotterdam on September 13.

    Ten Hag's men were declared champions for 2019-20 when the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) cancelled the season amid the coronavirus pandemic in April.

  • Rumour Has It: Man Utd prepared to walk away from Sancho transfer Rumour Has It: Man Utd prepared to walk away from Sancho transfer

    Will Manchester United sign Jadon Sancho or not?

    That is the question dominating headlines as United reportedly negotiate with Borussia Dortmund.

    This transfer saga is one to watch.

     

    TOP STORY – UNITED READY TO END SANCHO PURSUIT

    Manchester United are threatening to walk away from a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to reports in England.

    Sancho has been tipped to swap Dortmund for United, with Bild claiming a lucrative five-year contract has been agreed as the Bundesliga outfit insist on a €120million (£108m) fee.

    But Goal, Sky Sports and The Mirror say United are ready to pursue alternatives of Dortmund do not lower their demands.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - The Guardian reports Leicester City are trying to sign Francisco Trincao from Barcelona. Leicester have proposed a two-season loan deal with an obligation to buy for £45m (€50m). Trincao is preparing to link up with Barca after the LaLiga giants signed the 20-year-old from Braga in January.

    - Premier League champions Liverpool are eyeing a move for Norwich City left-back  Jamal Lewis, says The Mirror. Lewis impressed in 2019-20 as Norwich were relegated and Liverpool are looking to wrap up a £10m deal.

    - Gianluca Di Marzio claims Tottenham right-back Serge Aurier is open to joining Serie A side Milan.

    - According to Tuttomercatoweb, Juventus are lining up possible replacements for under-fire head coach Maurizio Sarri. Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi, Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini and Luciano Spalletti have all been linked.

    -  Aston Villa are aiming to keep star captain and rumoured United target Jack Grealish by offering a new contract, reports The Sun.

    - Linked with United , Everton and Napoli, France Bleu Nord claims Arsenal are leading the race for Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes.

    - Is Federico Chiesa set for Old Trafford? La Nazione reports United have made a €55m (£49m) offer for the Fiorentina forward, who has also been linked to Inter, Juve and Chelsea .

    - Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake is poised to complete his move to Manchester City. Fabrizio Romano reports there is a total agreement and a medical will take place in the next couple of days.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.