Sport Soccer

Monday 11 December 2017

Manchester United's Ander Herrera: When the manager needs me I'll be there

Ander Herrera is waiting for a chance for for more playing time at Manchester United
Ander Herrera is waiting for a chance for for more playing time at Manchester United

Ander Herrera has struggled for game time at the start of the season, but Manchester United's reigning player of the year only cares about the greater good ahead of their Champions League return.

An impressive third campaign at Old Trafford led the 28-year-old to be named by Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year by the club's fans last term.

Herrera was a consistently impressive presence in United's midfield, but the summer arrival of Nemanja Matic meant it was not until this weekend that he made his first Premier League start.

The Spaniard was frustrated not to win Saturday evening's trip to Stoke, but the lack of minutes before the 2-2 draw has not grated anywhere near as much on the midfielder.

"I am always ready to play," Herrera said. "I always say the same.

"I am a team player and when the manager needs me I will be there and that's it. In football there are no surprises."

Herrera will be hoping to retain his starting place when United this week line-up for their first Champions League match in 644 days.

Europa League glory secured Jose Mourinho's men safe passage back to the continent's top table, which kicks off at home to Basle on Tuesday.

"We are ready but we have to respect every opponent and realise where we have come from," Herrera said.

"We are a big club and maybe the biggest in the world, but we were not in the Champions League last season and we have to take it step by step.

"First aim we have is Basle. We cannot think of winning the Champions League now, we have to take it one step at a time.

"We should be in the Champions League.

"Even without the Champions League we are the club with more fans than anybody in the world, with the biggest amount of sponsors in the world, but being in the Champions League is basic for us, that is why the game against Ajax was the game of our lives. It was certainly the game of my career.

"We want to fight for every title. Last season we won three which wasn't bad for the club, but we did not fight for the Premier League and we were not in the Champions League, so we have to be humble and take it step by step.

"It is amazing to be back in it. Every game is amazing for Manchester United for me but the Champions League is the most beautiful competition apart from the Premier League."

Beautiful is not a term that has often been associated with Stoke over the years.

Mourinho claimed Saturday's trip to the bet365 Stadium was the kind of game when absent Marouane Fellaini's physicality was needed - a suggestion that rankled with Mark Hughes.

The United boss did not shake hands with his Stoke counterpart at the final whistle, and Hughes believes the long-ball stereotype is lazy and outdated.

"That's just an easy swipe at us, really," Hughes said when the Fellaini comment was put to him.

"You could argue United played more long balls and why wouldn't they, because they've got power and pace and if they can get those players ahead of the ball with good accuracy they've got pace and power to burn.

"So I don't know what the stats are but I'd argue that in general play they played more long balls than we did because they've got that threat and that's what they try to exploit.

"I think it's a bit lazy of people to keep on reverting to that 'Stoke are a physical team' thing.

"Goodness knows, we had too many free-kicks against us but that wasn't because we're a physical team, it was because the referee misinterpreted too many things in my view.

"Overall we have changed, we're a different type of team, I try to bring good players here and we try to play football and I think you saw evidence of that.

"And we've got a good resilience and character in the group now.

"This is my fifth season and since we've changed we've had better success in relative terms and in terms of league position.

"We're trying to be better. We slipped back to a certain degree last year and we don't want that to happen.

"I think we're 10th after the games today and that's where we see ourselves.

"We're a top-10 side in my view and we've just got to prove it this year."

Press Association

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