The midfielder begun the game alongside Darren Fletcher in a 3-5-2 set-up but in a highly charged encounter he didn’t appear to be having much of an effect on the fixture as Manchester United struggled to put a few passes together in the opening stages.
An away fixture to a third tier English side would have been completely alien to a man originally from La Liga and the physical nature of the contest appeared to overwhelm him in the first half. Having to play alongside Fletcher, who appeared horribly out of his depth, seemed to make life ever harder for Herrera. The Spaniard was on the receiving end of some very slow and sloppy passes from his midfield counterpart, making getting things moving seem nearly impossible and was guilty of some poor passes himself.
Read more…Van Gaal: Herrera is class
In the second half, the switch to a 4-4-2 diamond gave license for Herrera to move forward into attacking areas and have a greater influence on the game. By playing further up the pitch, he was able to link up with the likes of Wayne Rooney, James Wilson and Angel Di Maria. His thunderbolt of a goal in the 64th minute was no more than he deserved.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 4, 2015
Following this game, it seems clear that the midfielder looks far more comfortable in the 4-4-2 diamond system. It allows the Spaniard to make use of his attacking talents whilst the defensive minded 3-5-2 system seems to restrict his role to scrapping for the ball in defensive areas. Should Louis van Gaal choose to stick with the formation he used in the second half, Herrera could prove to be a key player for United.