Ander Herrera is not one of Manchester United’s star players despite winning the fans player of the year award last season.
The 28-year-old, who spends a large amount of his spare time spending time among fans at football matches in his native Zaragoza, has not replicated such success this time out in a campaign largely spent on the fringes at Old Trafford. However, the midfielder has enjoyed a strong run of form in the past month.
Return to the lineup
The Spaniard returned to the starting XI in the recent 2-0 home victory over Swansea City and he has now started five games in a row, in which United have won five.
He has formed part of an effective and fluid midfield trio alongside Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba. Alongside Matic, Herrera usually sits deeper than Pogba but each of the three have the license to carry the ball forward and impose themselves in attacking situations.
Return to form
The 28-year-old has made a very real impact in attacking terms too, his cushioned chest assist for Pogba as United began their remarkable comeback victory at Manchester City was magnificent.
His deliciously weighted pass to Jesse Lingard sparked Jose Mourinho’s side opening the scoring at Bournemouth and, most decisively of all, he netted the winner against Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final following a lung-bursting run.
Herrera’s main strengths lie in his defensive contributions with a high level of concentration and the continuing knack of intercepting opposition attacks. He likes to keep things simple in midfield, making effective tackles and playing short yet incisive passes. A talented player, it is the Spaniard’s attitude which make him so loved by Mourinho.
After all, this was the player who so impressively man-marked Eden Hazard out of the match in last season’s Premier League meeting at Old Trafford and it was he who instructed Henrikh Mkhitaryan to make a late run into the box to net the second goal in the Europa League final. Herrera is smart, he is cunning, and he provides leadership both on and off the pitch.
He can often master the dark arts too, deliberately winding-up opposition players and derailing their concentration, which perhaps is an aspect of his play which endears him to Mourinho more than any other.
The common perception was that Matic would allow Pogba to flourish at Old Trafford, but the former Athletic Club midfielder has proven equally effective just when it mattered most.
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