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Nemanja Matic looked to Roy Keane with admiration, possibly defining his career so far…

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic spoke ahead of Serbia’s FIFA World Cup qualifier with the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday evening which resulted in a 1-0 victory for Matic’s side about his admiration of former United midfielder Roy Keane, the assistant manager of Ireland. Matic, a £40 million signing by Manchester United this summer, resulting in many wondering why Chelsea sold the player, effectively strengthening Jose Mourinho’s side this summer, especially in a position that needed strengthening in. The Serbian international who now sees his country in pole position in Group D, four points clear of second-placed Wales, spoke about Keane being a player he based his game on, now filling the role vacated by the player around twelve years ago. Matic, reported by Sky Sports, said:

“Everybody knows that Roy Keane is a legend of Manchester United – he was a very important player for a long time.

“When I was young and started to follow football, he was at his best at Manchester and was one of the best midfielders in the league.

“I tried to take something from lots of players to improve myself and of course Roy Keane was one of those players.

“He’s a legend in Manchester and I’ll be happy to see him and have a chat. I’m happy that I play at the same club that he played.”

Keane was a once record signing for United bringing Keane from Nottingham Forest for £3.75 million, a small fee if you base it on what Matic cost the club this summer. Times have changed though and United, despite signing many midfielders since Keane left the club, never actually found that player to fill the void. Michael Carrick was the first replacement, filling the void in his own way. Owen Hargreaves was probably the best player brought in, but his injury record showed that United still had work to do. In recent years Marouane Fellaini, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Morgan Schneiderlin have all be brought in to play in this position, none of them really making their mark.

Since Matic made his debut for United, he has received the plaudits he deserves for what he brings to the team. To think United could have paid so much more for Eric Dier in the summer, a player who has nothing on Matic, other than age on his side. Matic may be a stop-gap in terms of longevity, but for what he will bring United this season, it will be well worth it. Jose Mourinho knew exactly what he was bringing into the Old Trafford club this summer, which is something that should have been backed with many moaning that Matic is not Fabinho, the cult footballer who they (most of them anyway) wanted this summer.

Matic is experienced in the Premier League, winning two league titles in the last three years, the first of which under Mourinho led to the manager wanting the player in order to help United challenge for the title this season, Mourinho’s second at the club and normally the season where he wins a league title, as he has done in Portugal, England, Italy, Spain and England again. United and Mourinho could have done so much worse than Matic this summer, looking at what he has helped the team achieve so far this season, three wins in a row, ten goals scored, none conceded and United back at the top of the Premier League. Matic was the player United needed. Not an all singing, all dancing Brazilian who the fans, some of them at least, wanted.

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