Ander Herrera put in a persuasive performance during Manchester United’s 1-0 Europa League defeat to Feyenoord on Thursday night.
The Spaniard was thrown into the starting XI for only the second time this season and provided a far slicker, more progressive dimension than Marouane Fellaini in midfield.
A quick look at his stats gives a good indication of how powerful he was against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side: 78 passes, 91% passing accuracy, 5 tackles, 1 interception, 1 take on.
But statistics only reveal some of the story: it is the 27-year-old’s mental approach – hellbent on winning the ball and instantly moving it forward – that hallmarks his game. Man United’s midfield automatically moves across the pitch with greater intent and dynamism when Herrera features, placing growing levels of pressure on the opposition.
There were times – especially in the second-half – where it felt as if Herrera was the only player providing consistent attacking impetus for Jose Mourinho‘s side, the only player determined to shift the ball in a progressive, unpredictable way, never ceasing in his desire to grab Feyenoord’s midfield by the jugular.
Jose Mourinho will be deeply aggrieved by his side’s attacking inertia against the Dutch side, but will be wildly encouraged to the dynamism brought by Herrera to United’s midfield.