Manchester United bounced back from last week’s humbling defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on Monday with an emphatic 2-0 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup.
Two first half headers, from Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba, were enough to secure victory for United and see them through to the quarter-finals of the most prestigious domestic cup competition.
Pogba has shown vast improvements under new management since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced José Mourinho in the dugout, while Herrera has regained a regular starting slot on the right of a midfield three.
And while both have enjoyed a huge upturn in form, it was not United’s record signing who Solskjaer labelled ‘vital’ after the game.
The United boss spoke extremely highly of Herrera, praising the energy and tenacity in midfield.
“His energy and tenaciousness is vital for us,” he said after United’s win at Stamford Bridge.
“And that’s why he plays, more or less, every single game. He has loads of energy, he can cover the right hand side, he runs forward.
“Tonight you can’t just praise one, it’s 11 players, plus the subs, but Ander has done fantastic.”
Under Mourinho, Herrera was used more sparingly, often being brought in for big games, much like Ramires was by Mourinho at Chelsea and Park Ji-sung was at United by Sir Alex Ferguson.
But now, as Solskjaer mentioned, he starts almost every game. And while the Norwegian highlighted Herrera’s physical capabilities in his assessment of his performance against Chelsea, Herrera’s technical ability should not be underestimated either.
He helps to circulate the ball in build up play, allowing Pogba to burst forward into areas where he can be more effective.
Herrera also pops up with the occasional goal, usually important ones, just as he did on Monday, as he latched onto the end of a cross from Pogba at the back post.