BURNLEY, England — Nemanja Matic is grateful to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho for taking the pressure off the players during their slump in form with a string of controversial news conferences.
United started the season with two defeats from their first three games, but Mourinho drew the focus onto himself, rather than performances on the pitch, with a number of eye-catching public statements, including quoting German philosopher Georg Hegel and asking for more “respect” for his achievements.
“He knows what he is doing for sure,” Matic said after the 2-0 win over Burnley on Sunday. “You probably know that also. It’s good for us. He is one of the best managers in the world. You know what he won in his career so that shows you everything.”
United slipped to 13th in the table after registering their worst start to a season since 1992 with back-to-back defeats to Brighton & Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur, but Mourinho, according to Matic, never showed any signs of strain.
“I think he is dealing very well with the pressure,” he said. “That is why he is here in Manchester United. I don’t see any difference. He was very confident before the game [against Burnley]. He prepared [for] the game in a very good way.
“We knew where they could cause us problems with the long balls. That is why Fellaini played close to our defence, to stop the long balls, and I think this performance shows how we need to play football and we still can compete for the title.”
Up to 10th after the victory, Matic said it is too early to write off anyone as a title contender.
“Someone needs to lose to drop the points and it’s still too early to say something,” he said. “We will see in March where we are, because in March, you can see who is fighting for the title, who is not, who is fighting to be in the top four. It is still too early.”
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