Jose Mourinho found the man to balance his midfield perfectly in Manchester United’s 2-1 comeback victory against AFC Bournemouth.
Ander Herrera came off the bench in the second half and was a key component in the Man United side as goals from young forwards Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford turned the game around at the Vitality Stadium.
Mourinho praised his Spanish midfielder after the match for his impact on the fixture, which saw United climb to eighth in the table level on points with their Saturday lunchtime opponents.
“He’s [Herrera] a player of balance, he’s not an incredible creator, not an incredible scorer, he has a little bit of everything but I think he’s a player of balance, knowledge, his tactical knowledge is big, he understands what I want, what the team needs,” Mourinho said, explaining perfectly why many United fans want to see Herrera more often.
After arriving from Athletic Bilbao under Louis van Gaal, Herrera was a key player right up until the start of Mourinho’s second season in charge at Old Trafford. Since then, he has been a bit-part player.
That is acceptable, in a way, because Herrera isn’t good enough to start in United’s team. However, with the current situation, perhaps it’s time Mourinho looked to him more often to provide that balance.
“In theory, you say ‘Come on, 1-1, you bring Herrera’. I bring Herrera. But then Young & Shaw start attacking more, Paul gets much more freedom, the team recover balls higher and then we become more offensive in the period after Ander,” Mourinho continued. “He was really good.”
That’s the key to players like Herrera: they enable their teammates to be better. Matic, in contract, is dragging those around him down. His poor showings recently mean Pogba has to drop deeper to receive the ball, has to help out more in defence and can’t, therefore, attack and provide the same impetus that he did for United after Herrera came on.