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Analysis: A look at Ander Herrera’s complete midfield display against Everton

Manchester United will be disappointed by their points total in November considering that they dominated matches, but failed to win them. It was a similar story against Everton as they had the lion-share of the play, but they couldn’t make it count in the final third. A late error from Marouane Fellaini provided Everton with a golden opportunity to secure a point and they took it. Jose Mourinho’s men have fallen off the pace in the league and they need a near perfect Christmas period to get back into the race for the top four, let alone the title race.

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Their main problem seems to be in midfield as they have struggled to find the right roles and personnel to get the best out of the side in transition. The trio of Paul Pogba, Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera is encouraging, but they need more matches together before they reach the level that Manchester United need. The latter has been one of the side’s most consistent players this season and showed once again on Sunday why he is a regular in the first team. He has had one of the best seasons of his career to date, finally establishing himself at Old Trafford and managing to make his Spain debut as well.

Herrera is a complete midfielder and perfect for the box-to-box role in the Manchester United midfield. He has the energy to get up and down the pitch, while he can contribute both on and off the ball. His ball retrievals have been particularly impressive this season and they were on show at Goodison Park on Sunday. The Spaniard won five tackles and made a further one interception, which was more than anybody else on his side. His ability to do the dirty work in midfield has certainly impressed his manager and there is nobody else in the Manchester United squad that can carry out this role.

As well as getting stuck in, Herrera is a cultured player and capable of contributing in the final third with his driving runs and passing ability. He is crucial to the transition phase as he is capable of carrying the ball long distances. Against Everton, he had a 50% dribble success rate and it is a good skill to have for a midfielder, especially considering he combines it with an excellent passing range.

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The Spaniard got a lot of the ball on Sunday and completed 80% of his passes. He is reliable in possession and is capable of opening defences up. Although he didn’t manage to do so at Goodison Park, he was always positive with his passing, looking to move it forwards rather than back. The addition of Michael Carrick has provided Herrera with more attacking freedom and that was seen in the second half as the Spaniard ghosted into the box and fired a shot against the woodwork. It was intelligent movement from the midfielder and he was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. The engine that he possesses allows him to make these threatening runs and I expect his good form to continue for the rest of the season.

Manchester United have to improve significantly if they are to qualify for the Champions League at the end of this season. They have the talent in their squad to do it, but they must find the style that produces results on the pitch. One thing is for certain and that is that Ander Herrera has to be one of the central figures in Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United side. He is a complete midfielder, capable of doing everything on the football pitch. He was excellent at Goodison Park and is key to Manchester United’s hopes for the rest of the season.

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