Nemanja Matic Revealed What Jose Mourinho’s Note Actually Said.
Finally we had an answer.
Barely 24 hours later, the Serbian, Nemanja Matic sent his Instagram followers wild by ‘revealing’ Jose Mourinho’s instructions were a reminder that his midfielder was about to have three days off. Complete with a smiley face. That revelation made the back page of one national newspaper!
It was the latest example of Nemanja Matic’s dry sense of humour and, also, revealed the mood in the camp right now. Forget formations, man marking and tactical instructions. United’s players were free.
They are certainly making the most of their time off. Victor Lindelof has flown to Paris. Jesse Lingard has sampled life in Milan. Paul Pogba has brushed up on his dance moves with his brother, Mathias, while also having time for a trim. Romelu Lukaku has even jetted out to New York.
It is rare United’s players have two days off in a row, let alone three, so you can see why the squad are enjoying a break from the weekly routine of training and games.
Since the Super Cup on August 8, United have played 42 matches in 201 days – and that does not include players’ international commitments.
You have to go back to the start of January for their last break of note. And, even then, United’s squad were booked in for some warm weather training in Dubai after 11 games in five weeks.
You could tell how badly the players wanted that trip to the City of Gold as they desperately tried to find the breakthrough against Derby in the FA Cup to spare them a midweek replay at a soggy Pride Park.
Having dangled the carrot of a week in Dubai, after putting the plans together a month previously, Mourinho got the response he wanted as he looked to replicate the conditions United enjoyed at the UCLA in the summer.
United’s time in Los Angeles was crucial to their blistering start to the season and really brought the squad closer together. New arrivals like Lukaku and Lindelof quickly settled in, while youngsters such as Demetri Mitchell and Scott McTominay felt right at home.
Mourinho banked on a similar outcome at the Nad Al Sheba Complex in Dubai as the players basked in the sun while also having a rare extended period to focus on niggling tactical issues.
The beast from the east may have struck, but the Portuguese will be hoping for a similar scenario before next week’s game against Crystal Palace. United’s players are not due back in at Carrington until Thursday, but will return recharged and eager to build on a potential season-defining win ahead of a run of huge fixtures.
United play Liverpool, Sevilla and Brighton in the space of just seven days next month and those three games will go a long way to deciding whether they finish second in the Premier League, make a real statement in the Champions League and, potentially, go on to win the FA Cup.