London (AFP) – Nemanja Matic says Manchester United fans have not yet seen the best of him as he has been forced to play catch-up following a disrupted pre-season.
Matic joined United from Premier League title rivals Chelsea in the summer transfer window for £40 million ($53 million, 45 million euros) in a move that raised eyebrows, with many questioning the Stamford Bridge club’s decision to part with the player.
The defensive midfielder, who won the title with Chelsea last season, is staying level-headed despite United’s flying start to the season, and says he has more to give.
“I didn’t have pre-season,” Matic said. “I trained alone. I can feel it in some parts of the game.
“My body is not ready yet and I have some difficulty, of course, but I try to hide that and to play simple. I will be better.”
United’s trip to Liverpool in a fortnight will be a better yardstick by which to measure United’s quality than their 4-0 drubbing of struggling Crystal Palace on Saturday that leaves them second in the Premier League table, behind Manchester City on goal difference.
However, United’s sixth successive win at Old Trafford this season in all competitions cannot be overlooked after poor home form cost them so dearly last term.
“As you know, we’ve won almost every game, we only drew at Stoke — in the Premier League it is very hard to do this,” Matic said.
“This can only be done by big teams, so we showed that we are a big team and we have to continue like this.”
United’s challenge has been made tougher by what manager Jose Mourinho calls a “long-term” injury to Paul Pogba, whose excellent start to the season came thanks partly to Matic’s contribution.
“Everyone knows that Paul is very important for Manchester United but we also have great players to play instead of him,” said Matic.
“We showed in the last few games that everyone in Manchester is ready to play and everyone can help us.”