Herrera, The Red Warrior

Ander Herrera is a Manchester United midfielder who joined the Red Devils in the 2013/14 season. He has been  an indelible servant at The Theatre of Dreams and on his day typifies the United fighting spirit. 
Ander Herrera Agüera (Photo Credits: Deviant Art)

Ever since the signing of Nemanja Matic in July 31 2017 Ander Herrera has been side-lined to the periphery of the first team. When he has been gifted an opportunity to play his performances have been hot and cold. On the one hand fans love his passion and determination, but on the other hand some fans feel that he makes too many mistakes. He has often been compared to Paul Scholes for his ability to shoot from long range, his tactical awareness and the ability to play quick, short passes. 

Ander Herrera was born on the 14th of August 1989 to Yoland Aguera and Pedro Mario Herrera in Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque country. Herrera would start his football journey at Real Zaragoza, joining the academy in 2001 and making his professional debut for the B team (Deportvio Aragón) in the 2008/2009 season. He would be held to a high standard as his father before him also played for Real Zaragoza before he retired at the early age of 30 due to a knee injury. 

His play and aggressiveness helped propel Zaragoza to the first division of the Spanish league (La Liga) and it is here that he caught the attention of Athletic Bilbao. His consistency and defensive characteristics eventually led to Athletic Bilbao signing him on the 7th of February 2011 for a fee of €7.5 million. He left Real Zaragoza with 86 appearances, 6 goals and 3 assists to his name. Not bad for an aspiring prodigy who was part of the Spanish U21 squad that won the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

Even at a young age he had a passion for the game (Photo Credits: Zimbio)

At Athletic Bilbao is where his stature grew even more. He could pass the ball, defend, score and had the ability to annoy opposition with his constant fouling. He knew how to get his foot stuck in to do the dirty work. During his time in Spain he had earned 4 red cards and on average earned a yellow card once in every 3 games. The kind of player you would hate playing against but one that you would love to have in your side.

It was during Sir Alex Ferguson's tenure that we would catch a glimpse of his quality, albeit in an Athletic Bilbao shirt. United were unfortunate enough not to make it through the group stages of the Champions League and as a result played in the Europa League. We were pitted against Athletic Bilbao and many thought that progression through to the quarter finals was assured. But, Marcelo Alberto Bielsa (former manager and current Leeds manager) and co. had other plans.

They bested us at Old Trafford and in their own backyard. It was a real punch to the gut, but credit is due to the Bilbao team as they gave it everything and then some more. Herrera even gave a delectable over-the-top assist. He would be remembered though for his all-round display. They managed to reach the final of the Europa League to succumb to a strong Atletico Madrid side.

The following season was a frustrating one as he suffered from a hernia injury. The heights that Athletic Bilbao reached the previous season would not be replicated due to several key players moving to other clubs. That mattered not as United had decided to finally bring him to the Theatre of Dreams in 2014 for a fee of €32 million.

Under LVG he struggled to find consistent game time. Whenever he played our time just seemed to flow much better. We still had possession, but with him in the starting 11 we had more attacking intent and purpose. Under LVG’s reign he managed to rack up 8 goals in his first season and 5 in the next. It is a wonder what could have been had he featured more.

With the departure of LVG, Herrera would have his best season in a United shirt under Mourinho. People will never forget the man-marking of Hazard which effectively kept him out the game. He also scored and provided an assist for Rashford in what was an impeccable display from the side.

When he won't give you  your space (Photo Credits: Metro.co.uk)

Under Mourinho we saw a more defensive player who would break up play and start attacks. His vision for the through ball led to many attacks. His sound tackling helped to stop attacks. His mobility was excellent. These are some of the reasons why he won not only the man of the match in the Europa League final, but also the Sir Matt Busby player of the year.

Although he has not reached the heights of the 2016/17 season, there are rumours going around that he may get a possible contract renewal, as his contract expires in the next season. I believe that he still has so much to offer and can instil the steel and grit we seem to have been missing. 

Herrera is a machine. He can do anything - He can attack, He can defend, has great vision, can tackle (unlike the Ginger Genius) and intercepts play like a traffic officer on a busy night. A player that loves and understands what it means to wear the United Badge. Without a doubt a player who always gives everything on and off the field. 

"Drinks Estrella by the cask, He's not Spanish, He is Basque" (Photo Credits: Zimbio.com)





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