Ole Gunnar Solskjaer experimented with a new approach in Man United’s last friendly of pre-season, as the hosts proved too hot to handle for Everton, putting four unanswered goals past the visitors.
Mason Greenwood, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, and Diogo Dalot were all on the score-sheet, but Nemanja Matic was lauded the most, despite only starring for 45 minutes.
The Serbian provided balance to his side from the base of the 4-3-3 shaped midfield, with United bagging three goals in the opening 30 minutes. Donny van de Beek was his pivot partner on paper, but he operated more closer to Fernandes than the 33-year-old midfielder.
During build up, Matic dropped to become the third centre-back to cover for Van de Beek, who moved further up the pitch, aiding transition from defence to attack.
The midfield combination worked well against Rafael Benitez’s men, but the big test, if Solskjaer decides to go with it in the first place, would be against Leeds United next week.
Van de Beek, who caught the attention of his teammates with his physical transition and training this summer, still has a long way to go before making the role he played on Thursday his own. Although due to his fitness, the Dutchman could get the nod ahead of Fred and Paul Pogba.
The former Chelsea man, meanwhile, is all but assured a start against Leeds, but due to his age, is unlikely to be available for selection on a regular basis.
He’s the only natural defensive midfielder at Old Trafford, and in order to take the same midfield system into the new season, the Norwegian tactician needs a younger version of Matic.