Jose Mourinho reserved special praise for Nemanja Matic following Manchester United's 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup final on Tuesday (8 August) in Skopje.
The Serbian midfielder joined the Red Devils in a £40m ($52m) deal from Chelsea earlier in the summer and started the game against the Spanish capital club. He partnered Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera in the heart of United's midfield and put in an impressive performance despite this being only his second game for his new club.
Matic played the full 90 minutes as United squandered their first chance of a trophy this season, and despite the narrow loss Mourinho was full of praise for his team. The Portuguese manager admits that his team found it difficult as Real dominated possession, but was satisfied with his third summer signing's performance and believes he provided the balance needed when United were in control of the ball.
"He also showed great spirit, great mentality. He was playing really, really well against a difficult team, because they move the ball a lot and they overload many times the central area and it's difficult to pick them up," Mourinho said in post-match press conference, as quoted on United's official site.
"But it was a very good performance from Nemanja. I think he played really well. In the moment when they were moving the ball more, he was good and in our period of dominance he was what we want him to be: moving the ball simply, giving balance and starting from the back. He has good experience at the highest level and stability," he added.
Mourinho also revealed that United could change formation during the upcoming season and switch to a back three in defence despite sticking to his regular 4-2-3-1 formation for the Super Cup clash. The Red Devils experimented with a three-man defence similar to the formation being used by Arsenal and Chelsea during their pre-season fixtures and the manager believes he could deploy it if necessary.
"We can [do that] but we can also play with four at the back. We used pre-season to work and try to improve things we already do and develop things we don't do. Lots of teams are playing with three defenders and wing-backs and we played like that against Sampdoria and LA Galaxy because it's something that maybe during the season we are going to do," the Portuguese coach added.