Herrera’s introduction as a defensive midfielder saw Manchester United switch to a 4-3-3 and it was that change which helped us get a foothold in the game after an embarrassing 45 minutes in the first half where Man City made us look like a pub team.
The Spanish midfielder hyped up the game with a message to the fans in which he made it clear how he’d give it all for a match he knows means so much to the supporters and speaking about his performance, it’s clear that didn’t go unnoticed by Mourinho.
“Let’s speak for example, Mkhitaryan, how many big matches has he played?” Mourinho said.
“The kid Jesse, how many times has he played big matches? If you speak about Eric Bailly he was playing for Villarreal, he never had a derby of this dimension but was our best player, was the player of the month, and today he coped with many situations.
“So you never know the way they are going to react. Especially when you don’t know them so well after a couple of months, it’s too early to know them really well.
“For example, Ander Herrera came on in the second-half and he was the one who allowed us to recover the ball fast, to press higher, to bring the team higher, to recover the ball, to build a new wave of attack, to put another long ball into the last line.
“Ander was phenomenal in his attitude.”
I love Ander and he was arguably my man of the match for his 45 minute performance on Saturday because he was one of the only ones who looked like they gave a damn and understand the occasion for what it was. Other players let the game pass them by, Herrera grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and for a man whose demeanour is so gentle and endearing, that rough side is what I enjoy seeing the most as a fan.
It’s about time Herrera stopped getting overlooked for the top quality midfielder that he is. Mourinho started him in every pre-season game up to the Community Shield and he was one of our best performers in those matches but since then he’s drifted back into the shadows behind Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba. You can understand Pogba being ahead of him but I don’t care how well Fellaini plays, he’s not a better midfielder than Herrera in any way shape or form.
The sooner United permanently switch to a 4-3-3 with Herrera, Schneiderlin and Pogba in, the better off we’ll be and I hope that starts away at Feyenoord on Thursday.