Making Things Personal: The Reason Behind Herrera’s Bench-warming

From Jose Mourinho’s golden boy, to chief bench-warmer; Ander Herrera’s last five months at Old Trafford has u-turned quicker than Steve Parish on Frank de Boer, as the Spaniard finds himself further down the pecking order than Marouane Fellaini.

The arrival of Nemanja Matić was always going to occupy a place in the middle of the park for the Red Devils, but many still expected Herrera to play a regular role alongside the Serbian – be it in a 4-3-3, or a 4-2-3-1.

However, the Spaniard has only started one league game, and made just one appearance from the bench since the beginning of the season; hardly the sort of predictable start for the 2016/17 Player of the Year.

With Paul Pogba’s recent hamstring injury in the Champions League sidelining the Frenchman for six weeks, it looks like a window could open up for Herrera to get himself back in the first-team.

Yet such transition does not seem as academic for the Spaniard after the 28-year-old was left out of the match day squad against Basel earlier in the week. Either Michael Carrick or Fellaini could be lining up along side Matic with Herrare continuing to warm the subs’ bench.

To suggest it is a loss of form, or other players playing well seems a reasonable enough argument for Herrera’s absence, but reports coming out of Carrington now suggest other ahead of the weekend fixture against Everton.

A source inside Old Trafford has said that Mourinho was furious when the midfielder brought a friend to the training ground ahead of the Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo last season. The incident caused a change in relationship between Mourinho and Herrera, who reportedly was called for the ‘hairdryer’ treatment in Jose’s office, which now points to the Spaniard’s regular absence from the first-team:

“We used to joke that he was Jose’s golden boy, and they were always chatting about the game,’

‘But the dynamic has changed since the end of last season. It’s not the same.”

— Daily Mail source

For Herrera’s sake, the Spaniard now needs to get himself back in the manager’s good books with an opportunity arising following Pogba’s injury. But, we all know Jose likes to hold a grudge, and can often struggle to let things slide; such petulance could see the Red Devils’ gaffer continue with his 2016/17 golden boy out of the team.


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