Tuesday 19 February 2019

Ander Herrera a Man Utd captain in all but name

Paul Pogba's swashbuckling brilliance may have stolen the Stamford Bridge show, but Man Utd had another metronomic midfield master pulling the strings. Under-rated and under-stated
but invaluable, it was a night when Ander Herrera proved the scourge of Chelsea once more. He was everywhere - first to every tackle, winning every header, dominating every second ball to harry and hassle Chelsea into submission. He was omnipotent, popping up everywhere to snuff out even the merest hint of danger at its source.

Herrera will always be synonymous with this fixture, with his magnificent man marking job on the Blues talismanic figurehead Eden Hazard almost two years ago at Old Trafford still fresh in the memory. Their rivalry was rekindled as the little Basque again kept the mercurial Belgian in check, nullifying Chelsea's creator in chief and allowing the Reds to take complete control. Chelsea must be sick of him. Vigilant, effervescent, unstinting and a bundle of energy throughout, this was Herrera at his irritatingly brilliant best. He must be a nightmare to play against but is a man and a player who everyone would want at their club.

Aside from scoring the opener, where he timed a perfect run at the back post to head home Paul Pogba's cross, Herrera's Eden project came to fruition again as he proved his nemesis' kryptonite throughout. Pogba may have officially been named as man of the match at Stamford Bridge with an assist and a goal, but Herrera was right up there as the Reds pick of the bunch. This was arguably his best performance since signing for United from Athletic Bilbao in 2014. Having fallen foul of the toxic Jose Mourinho regime, he has regained those leadership qualities under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Herrera's header marked his third goal of the campaign and his second on Solskjaer's watch.

If Alexis Sanchez is an empty bottle of ketchup, then Herrera is a bucketful of sauce. He epitomises everything a Man Utd player should be. So much so, that he is surely now an Old Trafford captain-in-waiting. An expert of the needle, master of the dark arts, shithouse extraordinaire. From outcast under Mourinho to indispensable under Solskjaer.
 Fans seem to harbour a romantic notion that the captain should be a homegrown talent, rising through the Red ranks to lead his side to glory. But in a United side not exactly blessed with natural leaders, Herrera needs to be given the armband and is this side's captain in all but name. Ander carries an unstinting passion for the club that's unusual for a foreign export, wears his heart on his sleeve and loves Manchester United like we do. Out of contract in five months time, it's absolutely essential that we get this man tied down to a new deal whatever it takes.

Herrera talked up Alexis Sanchez pre-match, and then went straight to him for a gee up and motivational hug at full-time. It was that one moment, perhaps more than anything that had gone before, that proved why our number 21 should be the next Man Utd captain.

Ole ole Ander Herrera!!

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