Ander Herrera gave the performance of his Manchester United career on Sunday. It strengthened the view that many United fans have, that he should be the next Club Captain after this summer’s expected departure of Wayne Rooney.
The Basque midfielder who was instrumental in United’s best performance since beating Manchester City 4-2 two years ago, a game in which he was also United’s best player, is a trusted lieutenant of Jose Mourinho. Indeed, nobody on Sunday in a red shirt embodied Mourinho’s game plan more clearly. He nullified perhaps this season’s finest footballer, Eden Hazard, by sticking to him like super glue. The Spaniard also contributed with one of the passes of the season to play youngster Marcus Rashford in for United’s 1st goal. He capped off his brilliant performance with the game’s clinching 2nd goal, albeit as a result of a deflection. The Red Devils dominated the Premier League Leaders and it truly was a superb United display, led by the Spaniard. He certainly put in a captain’s like performance.
Other contenders who could claim the armband include David De Gea, now a senior figure at United with next season set to be his 6th with the club. However, questions remain over whether he has his heart truly set on a move to Real Madrid. Alternative long-term candidates include Paul Pogba and Chris Smalling. Pogba though is still finding his feet in the Premier League, whilst Smalling may have dropped in the pecking order to United’s third choice centre back behind Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly. Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be the final contender, but surely is only a short-term option due to his age. Therefore, Mourinho’s decision on who gets the armband should be obvious.
Every so often this Manchester club signs a foreigner who takes to the football club, Old Trafford and Manchester as a city as if they have lived here their entire lives. Like Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Eric Cantona before him, Herrera is a player from abroad who is adored by the United faithful. He shows a passion for the club not demonstrated by the likes of other foreign imports, such as Angel Di Maria. As such these players are not viewed so favourably by United’s fans and they are less forgiving after repeated bad performances. Few at Old Trafford were sorry to see the Argentine, who did not want to fight for his shirt like Herrera has had to, leave the club. Indeed, unlike Di Maria and others before him, Herrera is now seen as one of United’s own by their supporters.
Importantly, the Spaniard definitely appears to love playing for the club. Whether it is against Yeovil Town or on Sunday against Chelsea, Herrera shows the passion of a fan when he scores. He has also often spoken about his desire to sit with United’s much lauded travelling supporters for away games when he is unable to play. When you combine that enthusiasm with the performances that he has put in this season, few would suggest that there is a better choice to be United’s next captain. Indeed, the Basque footballer would be the popular choice too.