Why Manchester United rested Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer acknowledged Manchester United are having to manage their players’ conditioning with their season about to extend beyond a year.

United overcame Copenhagen in extra-time of their Europa League quarter-final almost a year to the day since they began their campaign against Chelsea on August 11.

United have already played 60 matches this season and Matic and Lindelof were the notable absences from the starting XI 15 days on from United’s final day league win at Leicester. The MEN reported Solskjaer was considering resting regular players during the latter stages of the Europa League in Germany.

Solskjaer introduced Matic and Lindelof for Fred and Eric Bailly midway through the second-half and both could be recalled against Wolves or Sevilla in Sunday’s semi-final.

“Yeah, we have a squad and we decided to start with the team we did today and when we put Nemanja and Victor on the game was there for us to attack,” Solskjaer said.

“Eric was on a yellow and I didn’t want him to end up in a difficult situation wanting to do a tackle. Fred played really well but Nemanja has a calming influence on the game and did really well.”

Matic was relaxed about his own conditioning: “We are in a good position. The season was long but we knew what to expect. We have to be ready mentally.

“Physically we are fine. We are in the same position as every other team. The most important thing is to be mentally ready. That will decide the semi and final.”

United had 26 shots at goal and drew 13 saves from Karl-Johan Johnsson, who was only beaten by a Bruno Fernandes penalty five minutes into extra-time. The win put United through to their third semi-final of the season, having lost to Manchester City in the League Cup and Chelsea in the FA Cup.

“Of course we had close to 30 shots, half of them probably on target and the keeper had the game of his life,” Solskjaer added. “He was really good, then again I could say we need to be more clinical in knockout games.

“But delighted we’re through to the semi-final with this team. Next challenge is to go one step further and win this one.”


Manchester Evening News