Those of you that follow me (not many I know) will know that I have been very much in the ‘Mourinho-In’ camp for some time. Whilst many, including our very own Mark Goldbridge, have pitched up tents over in the ‘out’ camp, I have remained across in my field, like an old man at Glastonbury a week after the festival has finished. Continue reading What is going on??
Voted Manchester United’s player of the year last season, the fall from grace of Ander Herrera this season has been one that some Man United fans have found hard to fathom? Herrera has endured a mixed career at United, criminally underused by Van Gaal, to first name on the sheet for Mourinho last season, to forgotten man this season. So what’s gone wrong with Herrera? And why is he suddenly such a divisive figure amongst United fans?
The big positive with Herrera is he gets the importance of wearing a Manchester United shirt. In a sentence he gets what Manchester United is all about. Passion, intensity, drive and an appetite to win and play fast football. Herrera at his best is quick across the ground, hard in to the tackle, and has an eye for a defence splitting pass from deep. Not to mention a very good cross when he finds himself out wide on the right. Reading that back, he’s exactly what Manchester United currently need to complete a balanced midfield three with Pogba and Matic.
Jose Mourinho has been reluctant to use Herrera this season though. An ever present last season many predicted that the arrival of Matic would see United move to a more dynamic midfield three, with Pogba free to express his game on the left hand side, Matic holding things centrally from deep, and Herrera the tenacious box to box midfielder on the right with a bit of everything to his game. It’s a combination, that sat here in mid February with Mourinho’s midfield a laughing stock, makes total sense. The question is why has Mourinho ignored it for six months? Or more to the point, why has he ignored Herrera?
Amazingly, Herrera didn’t make his first Premier league start until mid September. Benched throughout the start of the campaign in August, Herrera went from Mourinho’s most trusted player to a bit part bench player. Mourinho wanted to utilise the now exposed and defunct 4231 formation and Matic and Pogba were the 2 Mourinho wanted to use. By the time Mourinho did turn to Herrera it was evident to everyone that Herrera was no longer the player of last season. The dynamism had given way to sluggishness and an odd reluctance to play a forward pass. In short Ander Herrera was no longer the player United fans loved.
With that came the usual, but somewhat unexpected and shortsighted, criticism of Herrera. “Sell him” “He’s useless” were just some of the comments flying around the United fan community, and a player that only a few short months ago had been fundamental to United’s season was suddenly on the scrapheap.
The question still remains why? What has caused Herrera to go from that exciting wears his heart on the sleeve player to one that looks lost on a football pitch? When you look back over the season, even when Pogba was out injured Mourinho regularly opted for Fellaini over Herrera. Limited Fellaini over Herrera who at his best optimises what United should be about! With Mourinho ignoring Herrera’s talents so consistently there can only be one conclusion. Over the summer something happened between Mourinho and Herrera that destroyed their great relationship of last season.
Some say Herrera wanted a move and Mourinho refused it. Others say it’s because Herrera won’t commit to a long term contract and is running it down so he can go for nothing. Both points would lean towards Mourinho being right and refusing to use a player who isn’t committed to the club. The only issue with that is that whenever Herrera has played for United it’s very clear that he loves the place and is totally committed. So what else could be the issue? Could it be as simple as Mourinho decided he wanted to go down a different direction? That he didn’t like the speed and dynamism of Herrera’s midfield play and he wanted taller more simple players like Matic and Fellaini in there? His selections over the season and introduction of another of those types of players in McTominay would add credence to that theory.
Whatever the reason, Herrera is no longer the player he was and that’s a big shame for Manchester United. A midfield three of Pogba, Matic and Herrera at his best would provide United with the perfect balance as they approach the most important part of their season.
Jose Mourinho masterminded a silencing of Liverpool and Anfield while Ander Herrera showed why he should be one of the first names on the team sheet. Just two of the topics discussed by host Paul Gardiner and guests Ashley and Jamie.
We all know that Mourinho is aware of certain issues that our current squad suffers. These problems have caused him to dive head first into the transfer window yet trying not to ruin our reputation of promoting the youth.
We all know that as a club we are interested in pulling back one of our former youth products in Paul Pogba. As we are spending such a big fee on one central midfielder it is likely that Mourinho will chose a current squad member to partner alongside him; yes there are many possibilities but I would like to make note of the more realistic options.
I think it is only fair to take into account that most United fans would prefer Pogba to play in the number 10 role, but given our current squad, the likes of Rooney, Mkhitaryan and Mata would be the most likely favourites to take this role.
This therefore makes it seem wiser to stick Pogba behind the attackers and act as a more box-to-box midfielder, but not being too scared to express himself every now and then when it comes to banging in goals from outside the box!
I have lined up 5 candidates to take on this role and they will be mentioned chronologically in squad numbers.
Straight away we can’t ignore the fact that he is a club legend, he is no Roy Keane or Paul Scholes in the midfield, but you have to credit him with what he has offered us for the past years at the club.
As I am sure you’ve gathered I do like Carrick, however does this mean he deserves to start? Quite simply, no. Many of you will disagree on me with this one but it is my opinion.
I love Carrick, he really is the beating heart of the locker room, but you can’t ignore the fact that he is on the decline (no disrespect intended).
This means that we need to find a way to shift him out of the starting line-up as soon as we can – he is incapable of controlling the midfield how he used to so we need to look deeper into our squad to find a suitable replacement; which I feel Van Gaal failed to achieve.
Just to make it clear. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want him to start; I believe Pogba could learn a lot from him, but I don’t think we can afford to start him as regularly like last season.
What’s there to say? I don’t think anyone dislikes the guy, he’s always eager to get up the pitch and create chances and score goals.
The trouble is that Herrera will struggle to find a place next to Pogba as they play very similar roles; if Pogba was at the number 10 spot then I’d have him in behind without hesitation. However, it isn’t quite that simple.
I am confident that we won’t offload him this summer as he can be a vital squad player for that midfield role, but Pogba will not budge for him no matter the circumstance.
Herrera was restrained by Van Gaal for a long time and is unlucky that we need a world class midfielder in our squad – I strongly believe that if he was given the proper chances under Van Gaal’s reign then Mourniho wouldn’t be looking to purchase a new player.
I hate his style of play! and his attitude on the pitch! He is not and won’t ever be a true Man Utd player! Glad I was able to get that out of my system.
Anyway, he is still a shocking player yet he’s still given game time. Mourinho might believe that Fellaini can be a useful tool for his midfield, with his height and excellent chest control of the ball; besides that though he offers nothing to the squad.
His involvement in the team thus so far under Mourinho could possibly mean a few things. One could be that he is being given game time to attract interest from other clubs. Another could be that Mourinho is just testing what he has available.
Although it seems the most likely is that Mourinho is actually considering keeping him as most likely a squad player – which saddens us all.
Realistically though, I think Mourinho will struggle to get him out even if he wanted to, due to the amount of money paid for him in the first place, the lack of skill he has and the simple fact that this could be the last big club Fellaini gets to play for, so he might insist to stay.
Ultimately though he is far from being the player we need to partner Pogba.
Unfortunately given last year’s circumstances, Schneiderlin was held back a considerable amount at Old Trafford. Beforehand he was sensational for Southampton which is why he was one of our best signings at the time.
It’s clear that the two would probably fit alongside each other perfectly like Yin and Yang. Both having their own individual roles but not being able to perform without the other’s effort. I think they will make the perfect duo and it helps that they share the same nationality.
However I am going to lay in a slight twist. Given the current size of our squad, we need to sell certain people and I think that Schneiderlin won’t be able to perform the same with this much competition, which is why I think he should go out on loan to a strong mid-table Premier League team, unless Mourinho can guarantee him decent game time.
One of the all time greats of the game, in my opinion he is the perfect choice to be Pogba’s partner in crime.
Schweinsteiger is clearly still capable of pulling off superb performances as shown for Germany this summer. He is a true leader on and off the pitch.
Yes, we are all aware that he is on the decline and gets injured a lot; however he is getting older and something we lack is experience in our squad, which he can deliver.
He wasn’t actually that bad last season before he got injured, also when you take into account that he was playing under Van Gaal.
Mourinho is apparently treating him like he’s a burden according to reports, but he’s more like a gift. He deserves so much more at United which I think most will agree on.
He wouldn’t be a permanent solution to finding a partner for Pogba, but he should certainly be at the top of Mourinho’s list in my opinion.
Thank You for reading. I just wanted to open people’s eyes to viewpoints they may not have considered previously.
Please feel free to leave a comment below in the comment section.
By Evan Beviss
United put the breaks on Arsenal’s title hopes after a second brace in two games from Rashford and a winner from Herrera secure all three points.
It was a game in which very few, including myself, expected United to emerge victorious. For United, outside of the top four, the squad riddled with injuries and Arsenal are up there challenging for the title, so naturally the gunners were favourites.
Then the game started. United looked bright, moving the ball around quickly and getting forward. When out of possession they pressed very well and frequently won the ball back. And then the unexpected happened. In the 30th minute United took the lead thanks to a goal from none other than Marcus Rashford! Juan Mata and Ander Herrera linked up with a little one-two (as they so often do) then Herrera fed the ball out to Varela who curled in a cross from the right hand side. The cross deflected off an Arsenal defender into the path of Rashford who drove the ball into the top right of the net.
Just three minutes later United doubled their lead. Mata, again playing an important part in the build-up, played a tidy ball out to Lingard who looked up and spotted Rashford in the middle. He hit his cross with enough pace leaving Rashford with nothing to do but direct the ball into the bottom left corner with his head for his second of the game. United were now 2-0 up and the crowd were rocking!
United were brought back down to earth shortly before half time when Danny Welbeck pulled a goal back in the 41st minute. Mesut Ozil hit a free kick into the United box and Welbeck, making easy work of shaking off Morgan Schneiderlin, got his head on the ball to guide it past David de Gea.
At half time I started thinking that Arsenal were going to go on and win the game. I thought that the goal would rile them up and they would come at us. I also thought that we would end up desperately defending the whole second half (especially after the 3-0 drubbing in October), sitting deep and inviting them onto us. But thankfully I was wrong! Throughout the whole second half, when Arsenal had the ball, United pressed and defended high up the pitch and it made the difference.
Although Arsenal had slightly more possession, United’s defence did a sound job in keeping the likes of Ozil and Sanchez quiet. And in the 65th minute the hard work paid off as United extended their lead back to two goals with a goal from Ander Herrera! The move building up to the goal again involved Juan Mata. The Spaniard played a through ball out to Marcus Rashford on the right who held the ball up, waiting for support. He then played the ball across the ground into the path of Herrera who rifled a shot with the inside of his boot which went in via a deflection.
At 3-1 the fans were back on their feet and the atmosphere felt relaxed again. That was until the 70th minute at least when Ozil mis-kicked a volley that found its way into the top left corner. This goal set up what felt like was going to be a tense final 20 or so minutes. But it wasn’t. United defended very well, again, pressing and defending high up the pitch. They did what they had to do to see out the game and that even involved a little show boating while running down the clock, which the fans loved!
It was a performance that all the players and fans should be proud of. From front to back United were solid. The defence held up well despite having two midfielders as centre backs, the midfield players all linked up well and helped to protect the defence and the attack, led by Rashford, was fantastic.
Let’s talk about Rashford for a second. A youth team player who made his debut against Midtjylland on Thursday night after Martial picked up an injury in the warm up before the game. There was no expectation, no burden on his shoulders. Just a chance to shine and shine he did. In that game and today’s, he showed his pace, his strength and his positioning and awareness. A true number 9. His second brace in as many games will fill him with confidence and belief that he can go all the way. The likes of Martial and Rooney will certainly have taken note of Rashford’s performances and rightly so.
Juan Mata also had a good game, linking up the midfield and playing a part in all three of United’s goals. Michael Carrick, despite an early yellow for a foul on former United player Danny Welbeck, also had a solid game at the back with plenty of interceptions and tackles. Morgan Schneiderlin had a very good second half cutting out passes and winning tackles. In general, the whole team performed fantastically and worked together to ensure the three points remained at Old Trafford.
The win lifts United back into 5th, just 3 points behind local rivals Manchester City [who have a game in hand] and United’s next game is on March 2nd at home to Watford. The players will be full of confidence going into this game and Watford have only won 2 of their last 10 Premier League games so I strongly believe we can win and put some pressure on a faltering Manchester City! Or maybe I am getting a little carried away?! We’ll see!
Paul’s player ratings – Man United V Arsenal
David de Gea (6) Protected well by his defence and couldn’t do much about the goals.
Guillermo Varela (6) Struggled at times with the pace of Sanchez and Monreal but effective going forward.
Micheal Carrick (8) Made several tackles and interceptions contributing hugely to United’s win.
Daley Blind (7) A calming influence on the game, always first to a loose ball.
Marcos Rojo (6) Not much to do but made a couple of good interceptions.
Ander Herrera (7) Scored what proved to be the winning goal and played his part in Rashford’s first.
Morgan Schneiderlin (8) An excellent second half reading the play and breaking down Arsenal attacks.
Jesse Lingard (7) Put in a battling performance and provided the assist for Rashford’s second.
Juan Mata (7) Fantastic work rate and played his part in all three of United’s goals.
Memphis Depay (6) Had few opportunities to shine but proved key in holding the ball and using his strength.
Marcus Rashford (9) Another fantastic performance again showing his awareness, vision and ability to score.
So what did you think of the game? Do you think it was an all round fantastic performance? Do you believe that top 4 is looking a little more realistic? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
You can also watch the United Stand live match reaction by clicking here or watching below:
After going a goal down against the run of play early on, United rallied together to brush Midtjylland aside with 5 goals of their own.
Very few people would have predicted this scoreline, particularly with the long list of injuries the team has and with Anthony Martial being added to the list just before kickoff with a hamstring problem. But the team pulled together knowing that a loss at home to Midtjylland would be unacceptable.
It was the visitors who found the back of the net first, in the 28th minute. Against the run of play, Sisto found himself with a bit of space on the edge of the box and easily skipped past Carrick and Blind then slotted the ball past Romero into the bottom left corner. United were now 3-1 down on aggregate and pressure was increasing. But, they reacted very well by dominating possession, getting forward and moving the ball around quickly, as they were before the Midtjylland opener.
It only took a few minutes for United to find an equaliser. On the 32nd minute Memphis ran the ball past the Midtjylland defence to the byline and hit a driven cross along the ground which was met by the boot of Bodurov who directed the ball into his own net. Just before half time, Mata had a chance to put United ahead and level on aggregate from the spot after Herrera was brought down just inside the area but Mata’s penalty was saved by Andersen.
United did take the lead in the 63rd minute thanks to a goal from youngster Marcus Rashford. The move started with Herrera who floated a cross over to the back post. Mata got on the end of it with a first time cross back across goal. Using his pace, Rashford beat the Midtjylland defenders to the ball and buried the ball into the back of the net. United were now 2-1 up and 3-3 on aggregate.
The game was being played almost entirely in the Midtylland half with United controlling the play and creating lots of chances. On the 75th minute young boy Marcus Rashford got himself on the score sheet again. This time it was Guillermo Varela with the assist. Following some quick, yet patient build up play, Varela hit a cross from the right hand side which dropped to the back post. Rashford found himself in a yard of space and allowed the ball to drop and then slotted the ball under the keeper, putting United 3-1 up and 4-3 ahead on aggregate.
United weren’t ready to stop just yet and on the 88th minute, United were awarded another penalty after a Memphis shot was handled by a Midtjylland defender. This time it was Ander Herrera who stepped up and he made no mistake by rifling the ball into the top left corner. United were now 4-1 up in the game and had a two goal lead on aggregate. It was the breathing space they had been hoping for and I’m sure Louis van Gaal would have zipped up his note pad at this point.
As the fourth official announced the amount of additional time there would be, there was a sense that the game was already finished. United were as good as through and Midtjylland didn’t look like they had the legs to score two goals in as many minutes. But, Memphis wasn’t done yet and he capped off a great performance with a equally great solo goal in the 91st minute. The former PSV player ran at the Midtjylland defence forcing them backwards and when he created a gap he arrowed the ball into the bottom left corner. And that was it. United won 5-1 on the night and 6-3 on aggregate to progress to the next round.
There were a few stand out players in this match and one of those was the young Marcus Rashford. He continuously proved a nuisance for the defenders with his ability to leave them standing with his quick change of pace. His positioning an ability to read the game were also proven with the two goals he scored. No better way to cap off a fine performance than scoring a couple of goals to help secure a place in the next round of the Europa League.
Juan Mata also deserves a mention. Throughout the whole game he put in 110% popping up in all areas of the pitch, linking the play between defenders and attackers, dictating play, winning back possession and getting an assist for Rashford’s first goal.
And we cannot leave out Memphis. He was poor in the first leg and against Shrewsbury Town on Monday he showed signs of improvement and a growing confidence. I said in the Shrewsbury review that he now has a great opportunity to prove himself over the coming weeks with several players out injured and he took his chance very well tonight. He had a very high success rate with take-ons, beating the defenders and getting plenty of shots in. But he wasn’t greedy by just taking shots, he also looked up to see what was going on around him and played a few key passes into the path of runners. We even saw flashes of skill from him which just indicates that his confidence is slowly returning and the goal he scored in injury time was the icing on the cake.
All in all it was a good performance from United. The team played well as a unit and as fans we can be proud of them. They are all under a lot of pressure and together with all the injuries, they need our support.
United’s next game is against Arsenal, on Sunday, at Old Trafford. This will be a real test for Memphis and United as Shrewsbury Town and Midtjylland can’t really be considered as tough opponents, but both games have done the team and Memphis some good in terms of morale and confidence. Hopefully both will carry into the game against Arsenal and we can get a result.
Paul’s Player Ratings – United V Midtjylland:
Romero (6) Was a little flaky with the ball at his feet but was rarely called upon.
Varela (7) Was good getting forward, linking up with Herrera and Lingard and provided an assist for Rashford’s second goal.
Carrick (6) Could have done more to prevent the Midtjylland goal.
Blind (6) Also could have done more to prevent the Midtjylland goal.
Riley (6) Was good going forward, linking up with Memphis.
Schneiderlin (7) A stalwart in the midfield with plenty of interceptions and winning tackles.
Herrera (7) Put in a good shift and scored a penalty.
Lingard (6) Was good going forward but lacked a killer end product often choosing to come backwards.
Mata (8) Dictated play, very high work rate, pressed well winning possession and provided the assist for Rashford’s first goal.
Memphis (9) Used his strength, pace and skill to beat defenders throughout the game, created chances for others and scored a great solo goal.
Rashford (9) Also showed great pace and strength when in possession and scored two strikers goals.
So what did you think of tonight’s game? Are there any players that you thought stood out? Would you rate any of the players differently? Let me know in the comments below.
You can watch the United Stand’s live match reaction with Mark Goldbridge by clicking here or watching below:
Both Ander Herrera and Phil Jones picked up injuries in Saturday’s game at Watford.
Louis van Gaal has confirmed that both players will not be fit to play in the midweek Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven.
Ander Herrera left the field midway through the first half due to a hamstring injury and Phil Jones was substituted in the second half after twisting his ankle.
Better news for Man United is that both Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney could return for the game against PSV Eindhoven after missing the Watford game. Martial due to a foot injury and Rooney due to illness. A win against PSV would secure qualification for the knockout stages.
To read the full article on the Sky Sports website, please click here.
Before the game started, many thought it would be a close encounter considering Manchester United’s record at Goodison Park in recent years. But it was not the case as United made sure that they put the result of their last game, against Arsenal, behind them with a comfortable 3-0 victory. Their first victory at Goodison Park since October 29, 2011.
Apart from two Manchester United goals the first half was fairly quiet. United looked comfortable but the game was very open with both teams seeing plenty of the ball.
The first of United’s goals came from Morgan Schneiderlin on 18 minutes. Chris Smalling, on the penalty spot following a corner, chested the ball down into the path of Schneiderlin toward the left side of the box. Schneiderlin then hit the ball first time with some power across a full stretch Tim Howard and into the bottom right corner.
The corner kick that led to the goal was won by an Ander Herrera shot from the edge of the area, which was tipped over the bar by Tim Howard.
Just four minutes later, Herrera popped up again to head home an early Marcos Rojo cross, for Manchester United’s second.
After the second goal Manchester United were beginning to see more possession, keeping control of the game. They probably should have gone three up after Wayne Rooney selflessly played the ball back across the box into Martial, who could only shoot at Tim Howard. Rooney had a great chance to shoot and probably should have, instead of playing in Martial.
Everton had one great chance to pull a goal back just before the break when Ross Barkley shot from a tight angle but was unable to beat David de Gea who punched the ball clear.
The second half begun with Everton putting some pressure on United with Lukaku proving to be a nuisance with his ability to hold the ball. But Phil Jones and Chris Smalling made sure that was all he did.
Lukaku did manage to get a shot off in the 54th minute, but David de Gea once again showcased his lightning-quick reactions by blocking the shot with his outstretched left foot.
Everton’s period of pressure came to an abrupt end on 61 minutes when Ander Herrera found Wayne Rooney with a perfectly weighted through ball. Rooney, one-on-one with Tim Howard, calmly struck the ball in at the near post with Howard going the other way. This was a much needed goal for Wayne.
Wayne Rooney had a chance to get his second 7 minutes later when his run from just past the half way line saw him only manage a tame shot which was easily saved by Tim Howard. However, there were claims that he was being pulled back.
Midway through the second half Everton looked as though they had switched off with several passes going wayward. But United were not able to capitalise on the mistakes.
On the 80th minute Everton were again close to scoring with a Barkley free kick going narrowly over the bar. This would surely have been only a consolation goal.
Throughout the game Chris Smalling proved to be a rock at the back once again with Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo also putting in good shifts. Ander Herrera also showed why he should get more game time with his goal, assist and fantastic off the ball play, creating space for others.
As it stands, Manchester United now sit second with Arsenal playing their game in-hand this evening away at Watford.
What did you think of the game? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
You can also watch the Everton V Manchester United match reaction on The United Stand’s YouTube channel by clicking here or watching below.
Please also visit The United Stand Fan Forum here to discuss the game or start your own discussion.
Everton Team Sheet
Lennon (Deulofeu – 73′)
Naismith (Koné – 45′)
Manchester United Team Sheet
Schweinsteiger (Carrick – 74′)
Mata (Lingard – 45′)
Herrera (Fellaini – 81′)