It was an enigma for United fans after watching Ander Herrera sit on the bench match after match between October to February. Having spent nearly £30million on the Spanish midfielder, it was disappointing to watch him sitting on the bench. Such was the effect, that media had already started announcing his departure from the Theatre of Dreams, but Herrera was patient and so was the boss Louis van Gaal. That patience has yielded amazing fruits resulting in solid wins over Tottenham, Liverpool and Aston Villa with Herrera a huge influence.
Though he was a regular starter during the FA Cup Matches and scoring in 2 of them for Manchester United, he was constantly shut out in Premier League fixture. Herrera had just made one Premier League start in a 2-1 victory over Stoke City. He then started off with the disappointing defeat against Swansea City in which he scored the lone goal.
Then came the crunch game against Tottenham Hotspur. Herrera combined superbly with fellow countryman Juan Mata who was in place of suspended Angel Di Maria. Herrera dictated the play alongside maestro Michael Carrick. He was at the heart of the move that released Marouane Fellaini to start off the goal scoring spree. His chemistry with Mata was superb and created lot of havoc for the Tottenham defence.
With Tottenham done and dusted, Herrera once again performed exceptionally well against arch rivals Liverpool at Anfield. It was his inch-perfect pass to Juan Mata in which led to the first goal and a huge advantage to Manchester United infront of the Kop.
Manchester United’s next fixture was against Aston Villa where Louis van Gaal’s men were frustrated with some high class defending in the final third from Villa, but just some three-minutes before the half time, a cut back pass from Daley Blind was perfectly nailed into the far corner by Ander Herrera. The Spaniard was again at the right place at the right time and drilled the winner, United’s third and his second. A performance that he was awarded the man-of-the-match award for.
With such outstanding performances, United fans often questioned why Louis van Gaal didn’t play him earlier in the season? The player himself answered the question. He said “Van Gaal lovers possession football and does not like risk loosing it. It took me some time to get used to his methods and now I’m enjoying my time on the pitch”.
When the manager was quizzed about the young Spaniard, he echoed almost the same words. After the man of the match performance the Dutchman hailed the recent performances of the midfielder.
Herrera’s stats speak for him. He now has more goals than Phillipe Coutinhio and more assists than David Silva and an amazing pass ratio of 89%.
Herrera is now becoming what United fans craved after the departure of legendary Paul Scholes. A guy who can run, tackle, assist and score. He may or may not be the next Paul Scholes, but he certainly is the closest thing that the club have had in the recent years. His movement is superb and so is the chemistry with other players especially with Juan Mata.
In the recent interview with the club’s official website, Herrera expressed his desire to stay at the club for a long time and emulate Paul Scholes. This only adding to his ever growing popularity among the fans.
Coming up this Sunday afternoon, is the Manchester Derby, a match in which Ander Herrera will no doubt be one of the first names on the team-sheet.