Saturday 7 February 2015

Herrera's baffling absence from the side poses more questions than answers

Spanish midfielder is popular amongst Reds but is becoming as frustrated as Shinji Kagawa did under David Moyes.

No-one can quite fathom why Louis van Gaal is continuing to ignore a player who has impressed me every time he has played, either as a starter or substitute.

We've been here before, or more accurately, Shinji Kagawa, has: United's lynchpin three years ago and Wayne Rooney's de facto heir two seasons back is now realising the grass isn't always greener at Old Trafford.
Ander Herrera could be forgiven for feeling the same way. There is not much left to say when United's starting XI is announced, often with an unbalanced look, and Herrera is named on the substitutes' bench.

Kagawa is now not even starting games for a Borussia Dortmund side rooted to the foot of the Bundesliga Table.

Like Kagawa, Herrera is popular  with United fans, unlike Kagawa he is not culpable for his first team exile: indeed, this seems to be down to pure circumstance.

It's no co-incidence therefore that United's most convincing performances- against Hull and Stoke- came with Herrera in the side.
He is mobile, quick, deceptively strong and carries a goalscoring threat. 
He received a 20 minute run-out against Cambridge on Tuesday and with his first touch teed up James Wilson to score.

No United midfielder has reached double figures since Paul Scholes in 2004/05 but yet Herrera has netted three goals in seven starts this term.

In the last three months, Herrera has been picked from the start just twice, providing an assist in one (against Stoke) and scoring a screamer in the other (at Yeovil).

It would be bizarre of Van Gaal to still hold those wretched 45 minutes Herrera experienced at West Brom in October against the Spaniard just after he returned from an injury lay-off.

It is not a coincidence that Herrera's replacement, Fellaini, scored his first United goal that night to belatedly kick-start his Reds career and the Belgian has emerged as a valuable squad player this season.

United have curbed their attacking instinct since the traumatic defeat at Leicester and Herrera is a casualty of this more pragmatic approach.

But yet since then he flourished after he stepped in for the injured Angel Di Maria against Hull in November, changed the game at Southampton and was instrumental as a substitute in the 3-0 win over Liverpool later that week.

Van Gaal, like Ferguson, is a master of manipulation.
"Herrera is class," he said after the Yeovil game.
"It was a fantastic goal. I was very happy with him that he scored."

The following week he was back on the bench, where Kagawa often sat and has remained there ever since.

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