This week the Red Thoughts team assess Ander Herrera’s progress under Mourinho and discuss whether he should be United’s captain if Rooney leaves at the end of the season.
RICK: Herrera has cemented his place in our team and whilst players like Kante for Chelsea get all the plaudits, his stats are far superior – not just in defensive work, but in attacking contributions as well. Against Southampton in the League Cup Final, he provided the cross for Zlatan’s winner, showing his contributions all over the pitch and it is why he is the first name on the team sheet apart from high profile players like DDG and Zlatan.
He’s won man of the match four times in the PL, and had 4 assists in all competitions. With an average of 1.3 key passes each game and an average rating of 7.54, he is definitely a key member of our first team.
JIM: He’s gonna become our new Carrick – one of the best players of his kind in the world, yet consistently underrated by the vast majority of people.
RICK: He never complains. Loves the club and has so much passion for us, like he was a home grown player. I’m telling you, Athletic Bilbao really know how to ground their youngsters.
His influence is so underestimated, not as much as Carrick’s was, but still considerably amongst the football world and even amongst a lot of our own fans. I see him as a future captain for United. I’m not sure about his leadership skills, but in terms of passion for United and showing that on the pitch, on the bench, and everywhere he goes, he definitely has love for the club. And such passion can flow into our other players on the pitch.
DAN: He’s a great player who covers the ground so well. His style of play compliments Pogba so well.
JIM: Actually, if Rooney leaves at the end of the season I’m torn between Zlatan and Herrera to take over as captain, because whilst I feel Zlatan has the better leadership skills, Herrera has more passion.
RICK: I’m not sure how long Zlatan is gonna stay at United, given we haven’t really given him a long term contract. So for me, whilst last season I would have said Smalling, this season he’s not been great at all. So for me it would have to be Herrera. Jones has been touted a long time ago, but he’s too injury prone … so Herrera.
DAN: Talking captains, Herrera is up there, but after Rooney and Carrick, Smalling is next in line. Van Gaal and Jose have both given him the armband when neither of the others are on the pitch.
Herrera for me is our player of the season, an absolutely brilliant footballer with passion and workrate matched by none in our side.
BETS: From the moment he ran rings around us when playing for Athletic Bilbao I wanted this player in our team and from the moment he reportedly cried when his transfer fell through with the great Moyes/Woodward/Fake representatives cock up, I could see his passion for United. I have been saying for a year I’d like him to be our next captain – not just because of his passion but because he’s a talker, an organiser – a natural captain.
Much as I love Zlatan, I heard he’s stalling on extending his contract because he wants to be sure we’re playing in the Champions League next season. That’s conditional love for the club rather than the unconditional love a captain should have. I personally never liked Rooney being captain for the same reason – his behaviour when re-negotiating his contract, first under Fergie and then under Moyes – showed he would have no qualms in leaving to get a bigger paycheck. That’s not the loyalty I want from a captain.
As for Smalling, he’s turning into a bit of a disaster. The defending in the League Cup final was just about the worst I’ve ever seen from a United team and he was a big part of that. We should have bought Lindelof in January, I was worried then we’d be exposed and it nearly cost us our first trophy. But that’s another subject. My point is that another requirement of the captain is that he has to be one of the better players in the side, in order to command respect, and Smalling doesn’t fit that bill right now.
My other shout for captain would be Mata, but given that it looks like Mou is never going to play him in his best position at no. 10, and that he will always be the first player he subs in every game, that really isn’t going to happen unfortunately.
JIM: I can see Herrera staying here for years – there’s no way he’s going anywhere unless he’s forced out (which I can’t see happening).
BETS: I agree. It’s a shame that LVG didn’t have more faith in him and that he’s had to wait until now to cement his place in the team.
DAN: I don’t think the defensive errors in the EFL final were all down to Smalling – I think Bailly had a bad game.
BETS: I agree, the whole defence was crap. Rojo was terrible as well. I thought Herrera helped out defensively but Pogba did f**k all.
HEMOR: I don’t know if it’s fatigue or they just didn’t turn up for the party, our defense was shaky almost throughout the game. The only person I’ll blame is Smalling, though, because he was supposed to lead the back line, in fact he was supposed to lead the whole team, but he kept making mistake upon mistake. Herrera’s early yellow card too didn’t help as he had to be cautious, Pogba didn’t make a lot of defensive contributions either. If I were Jose, I’d have brought on Carrick after 30 minutes.
RICK: Yep, Smalling for me this season has been dreadful. He’s been poor as a leader and as a defender. If I was him I’d be worried come summer, becayse he’s definitely the weakest defender we have. For me, Carrick is only vice captain because he’s been there for ages, but like most of our squad, he’s not vocal enough to be a true leader or captain. Plus he won’t play most games due to him declining and being old now. So Herrera should be our captain. I’m not sure he’s vocal enough, but you never know, he might be more vocal with the captain’s armband.
REX: Herrera is captain material and he’s very vocal on the field. You can see him giving directions to others, even the centre backs sometimes. The only question is if he’ll be Mourinho’s choice. Because as Dan said, so far Mou has stuck with the same trio that LVG had as captains. Where Carrick and Rooney might be fading into the sunset, Smalling is still very young and if he sticks around, might be that for a long time. As for vice captaincy, Mata has already been given the armband this season so that narrows the list down and I think De Gea might also have a shout as he’s been here longer than Ander.
For me personally, it doesn’t matter who is captain. As long as you have guys like Herrera who are passionate, love the club and want to win in your squad, you always have leadership, regardless of who has the armband. It takes a village you know…