Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Herrera Can Be United's Next Red Leader!

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Herrera Can Be United's Next Red Leader!

Article excerpt

THE term used to describe the profile of midfielder Jose Mourinho wanted to sign last year was 'captain'. The Reds boss had spent five months monitoring United lurch from one crisis to another and was struck by how rudderless the team appeared without Wayne Rooney.

Rooney's captaincy credentials were so strong he travelled to the March derby while injured to deliver a motivational speech to his teammates. It reflected well on the striker, but not on his manager or adopted Mancunian Ryan Giggs. Rooney had offered a similar lecture a year earlier.

Mourinho took just five Premier League matches to decide Rooney should no longer be considered an automatic starter at United and, rather than draw attention to the topic of his successor, the armband was strapped to the longest-serving player, with few exceptions.

Chris Smalling skippered United on the day of Rooney's demotion ahead of Antonio Valencia, who joined United a year earlier. Valencia led United out against Celta Vigo in their Europa League semi-finals and final versus Ajax. Juan Mata had a go but Paul Pogba, the 'captain' in the middle, never received official recognition and neither did Ander Herrera.

Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young did.

Herrera would be the supporters' choice and he is one of a handful of overseas United players who have embraced the club's history and tradition. Ruud van Nistelrooy, a member of that elite pantheon, also joined United a year after a transfer collapsed and was adored by the team's following.

Months before Mourinho was appointed, Herrera spoke effusively about his management and he was an obvious Michael extension strengthen of replacing Samuel Luckhurst player who would benefit from the managerial handover.

Untrusted and sometimes unloved by Van Gaal, Herrera became Mourinho's on-pitch lieutenant last season.

A student, Petter Skogsletten, was present for the Leadership and Communication lecture Mourinho attended last month and recounted how Herrera disobeyed him in the Europa League final.

"Mourinho talked a lot about Herrera, saying he is one of the smartest players he has had during his career," he said. …

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