Nemanja Matic backs Manchester United to 'fight for the title' next season as he praises their progress under Erik ten Hag.... and former Red Devils star offers advice to under-fire Harry Maguire amid criticism

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Nemanja Matic backs Manchester United to 'fight for the title' next season as he praises their progress under Erik ten Hag.... and former Red Devils star offers advice to under-fire Harry Maguire amid criticism

  • Nemanja Matic claimed Man United captain Harry Maguire is ' a great player'
  • The former Red Devils star praised his old club's style and play on the pitch 
  • AHEAD OF THE GAME: Maguire is concerned he may have to leave for game time

Nemanja Matic is confident that Manchester United will be competing for the Premier League crown next season after Erik ten Hag's impressive start at Old Trafford.

The former Serbian international midfielder tipped his old club to rival the likes of Manchester City for the title in 2023-24, and was full of praise for the style that the Red Devils are implementing on the pitch in a Sky Sports exclusive interview.

Under the Dutchman, United have flourished this campaign - despite a shaky start - and as things stand are heading for a return to the Champions League

They have also lifted their first piece of silverware in six years after Ten Hag guided his side to the Carabao Cup final, and could triumph in the FA Cup too, should they beat rivals City in the final in May. 

Matic conceded that there have been contrasts to United's fortunes in 2022-23, but remained convinced that their progress under Ten Hag will take them to a battle for supremacy in England next season. 

Former Manchester United star Nemanja Matic tipped the Red Devils to compete in the title race next season

Former Manchester United star Nemanja Matic tipped the Red Devils to compete in the title race next season

Former Manchester United star Nemanja Matic tipped the Red Devils to compete in the title race next season

Erik ten Hag has made an impressive start in the Premier League despite a shaky start

Erik ten Hag has made an impressive start in the Premier League despite a shaky start

'I like the way he wants to play, I like the way United are playing,' the 34-year-old said. 'They have had some ups and downs and that is normal with a new manager. 

'But I'm happy with how they have progressed and I think next season they will fight for the title for sure.'

The progress at Man United has been clear to see following the well below-par 2021-22 campaign, which left the club sixth, 13 points away from the Champions League places on just 58. 

This season for comparison they have already amassed 63 with six games left to play as they begin to reassert themselves as a force domestically. 

However, despite the club's improved fortunes, captain Harry Maguire's struggles have continued, with the centre back again struggling for game time and fluidity at the heart of defence. 

Maguire has lost his starting berth to Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, with the 30-year-old consigned to a place on the bench for much of the season. 

Of his 14 Premier League appearances, only seven have lasted 90 minutes and, perhaps more alarmingly, he has been brought on for 10 minutes or less on six occasions.   

With his contract up in 2025, his future remains uncertain at the club, although a move away is an option available for the England star, should he desire greater playing time in the run-up to Euro 2024.

Harry Maguire's future at the club remains uncertain after losing his place in the starting XI

Harry Maguire's future at the club remains uncertain after losing his place in the starting XI

Matic described Maguire as 'a great player'

The former Serbian international is currently playing for Roma under Jose Mourinho

Matic - currently playing for Roma under Jose Mourinho -  described Maguire as 'a great player'

'I can understand why he's playing for England because he's a great player,' continued Matic. 'When he signed for United, in his first season he played almost every game and he was one of the best players. 

'The problem today is that if you play two or three games not great, with social media, everyone criticises you and maybe that affected him.

'But he has to think only about his job because in football everything can change in a few weeks. His situation doesn't look great at the moment but he needs to be focused. He's very professional and we'll see what the future brings for him.'

Matic is now plying his trade with Jose Mourinho at Roma, and could meet United in the Champions League next term, with the Giallorossi vying for fourth spot in Serie A with Milan sides AC and Inter, all level on 57 points with six games to go.  

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