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Phil Neville: Ander Herrera is Jose Mourinho’s most important player

by Leo Nieboer

Former Manchester United full-back Phil Neville believes Ander Herrera is Jose Mourinho‘s most important player.

Herrera has only missed three Premier League games all season, making 19 appearances under Mourinho in all competitions.

The Spaniard delivered another sensational midfield performance against Tottenham Hotspur over the weekend, teeing up Henrikh Mkhitaryan – who made no mistake with the finish – with a sublime pass in the 28th minute.

Neville, speaking after the game, was full of praise for the 27-year-old.

“[Ander Herrera] has been absolutely outstanding. He does not have the flair or Pogba or the class of Carrick but having him in the team makes both of them better,” Neville told the BBC.

“Herrera is the type that you don’t know the true value of until you play or work with him because, from the outside, it may not appear that he scores or makes enough goals, or plays the killer passes.

“But I would describe him as United’s fireman because he is always exactly where he is needed on the pitch.

“He set up United’s winner against Tottenham but, quietly and efficiently, he did a lot more than that.

“He covered more ground than any other player, made the most interceptions and tackles and, if you look at his touch map, then he touched the ball in every area of the pitch.”

Herrera, since arriving in Manchester back in the summer of 2014, has continued to improve – so much so that you might want to check the odds on him finishing as United’s player of the year using this Bonus code leon. He came from Athletic Bilbao with plenty of creative bravado – a facet of his game that has only developed with time, as seen once again against Spurs.

The most notable thing about Herrera’s approach, however, is the sheer tenacity and bloodlust that has quickly made its way to the forefront of his game. I remember going to Old Trafford back in August 2014 for Man United’s contest with Swansea City – a grim afternoon by all accounts, with Gary Monck’s side claiming a 2-1 win and setting a pertinent precursor for the Louis van Gaal era as a whole.

It was also Herrera’s debut. His first game in England. Three minutes in, he was snapped – and by ‘snapped’, I mean completely wiped out with a monstrous yet somehow legal tackle – by Ashley Williams. It was, you could tell, a real shock to the system, and one he never really recovered from.

Fast forward to the present, however, and the tables have turned emphatically, with Herrera now acting as United’s main purveyor of crunching tackles.

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