“The fifth most expensive player in United’s history at £28.8 million, Herrera’s situation would probably be considered somewhat curious in the context of that huge fee even if Van Gaal’s midfield had been electrifying English football this season,” Ducker wrote in his column for The Times.
“Yet Herrera’s predicament takes on a more puzzling bent when one considers that United’s midfield, far from being impressive, has actually been disjointed, ponderous and leaden and looked much better on those brief occasions when Herrera has been gracing it.”
Indeed, Herrera’s case is very curious at Man United and just like Benjamin Button, his career is seemingly going in reverse. Instead of growing into the regular starter fans want him to be, he hasn’t been able to fully spread his wings.
As James Ducker points out, Herrera was not a Van Gaal signing as such. Much of the leg-work had been done before his arrival and he simply gave his approval to the transfer but Van Gaal would have had his staff research Herrera inside out before he agreed to the deal, so he would have been well aware of what type of player Herrera was.
Man United fans have been collectively scratching their heads over the Herrera situation and what is going on behind the scenes because Van Gaal certainly can’t be angry with the Spaniard for his contributions on the pitch.
Slick, decisive, penetrative and combative, Herrera’s all-rounded style brings a real dynamism to Man United’s midfield when he plays. When he doesn’t, United often stagnate in the transition between midfield and attack.
Van Gaal bemoans the current lack of balance at United but there are few more balanced players in the current squad than Herrera. Equally as strong passing as he is tackling, his all-round game offers so much more in midfield than Marouane Fellaini and arguably Wayne Rooney, a man who should be playing further up the pitch.
Instead of dropping Herrera to accommodate Rooney in midfield, why not drop Robin van Persie or Radamel Falcao to allow Rooney up front and Herrera back where he belongs in the starting XI?
It really is no coincidence that United play their best football when Herrera is in the team and fans are certainly hoping to see more of the Spaniard sooner rather than later because, based on his own performances, he certainly deserves it.