Nemanja Matic says Manchester United have no excuse but to challenge for the Premier League title next season and warned rivals that they saw the ‘proper’ United post-lockdown.
An unbeaten run after the 2019-20 season restarted after the coronavirus lockdown secured an unlikely top four finish and a remarkable turnaround for the Red Devils after an inconsistent showing earlier in the season.
Six draws and three wins to end the season saw them leapfrog Leicester City and Chelsea into third place, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally finding a settled starting 11.
The addition of Bruno Fernandes in January proved to be a catlyst for United’s season and after impressing with their attacking displays, Matic thinks the top prize should be the ambition for next season.
‘From the next season there is no excuse,’ Matic told MUTV. ‘We have to go with everything. We have to fight for the title because I felt that this year we dropped some points too easy.
There is a big gap for United to close between them and the top two clubs, with champions Liverpool finishing a whopping 33 points and even second-placed City 15 points ahead of United last season.
‘We allowed Liverpool to win [the title], I don’t know, ten games before the season finished. They won the league, so we cannot allow that. We need to fight to the end. We have to play with more confidence, with more responsibility,’ Matic added.
‘My personal target is to win the league with United and I am sure that everyone wants to do the same. We have to promise our supporters that we will do our best – exactly what we have done after [the coronavirus lockdown] when we started to play again. That’s Manchester United.’
The Serbian was a key part of United’s upturn in form and has signed a new contract to remain with the Red Devils until 2023.
He says rivals saw what his side can really do post-lockdown and says there will be no excuses if they fail to challenge to top teams next season.
‘We have to win five, six consecutive games then you can drop some points, then again you have to do that run. Like that we can win the league. In the beginning of the season we were not stable, we won one or two games then we lost and we drew. Proper United is exactly what we did after [lockdown] and I hope we can continue like that next season.’
United have been keen to bring in more quality to Old Trafford this summer but have been so far unsuccessful, stalling in their attempts to sign Jadon Sancho while Donny van de Beek and Jack Grealish remain among their other targets.