Ander Herrera, of Man Utd, releasing Paul Pogba in the role of Arturo Vidal


Spaniard has been the key to allowing Pogba more freedom for the Red Devils, adding discipline and work pace to the midfield.

Throughout the reign of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, there were many questions about when we would see Paul Pogba wearing a Juventus jersey.

Mourinho had conceded the 89.5 million pound world record of the midfielder after having won four consecutive Serie A titles with Bianconeri but the Portuguese coach failed to get Pogba to play as in Italy.

"I watched him a lot at Juventus and the man who controlled the game was Andrea Pirlo," said Paul Scholes. BT Sport in one of several analyzes on Pogba's troubled United form. "Pogba is being asked to do this at Manchester United, but it's not what he does best. He should be affecting the game further for me, he has to be more involved. "

But what Pogba also had in Juventus besides Pirlo pulling the ropes was Arturo Vidal running his blood to the water to the right of the three midfield so that the Frenchman could play in a more advanced and penetrating role in the left and therefore affect the game in the final third more often.

It's a luxury he never had under Mourinho, but when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to Old Trafford in December as an interim coach, he immediately identified the need to release Pogba as the key to opening his team.

And it is Ander Herrera who has been the key element in Pogba's recent renaissance.

While Mourinho asked for a lot of Pogba defensively, whether used in a 4-2-3-1, or in the 4-3-3, most preferred, Solskjaer gave Herrera the task of fulfilling the kind of duties that Vidal had good at back at Allianz Stadium.

The Spaniard added a renewed steel and larger legs next to Nemanja Matic, allowing the Serbian to play at his own pace and Pogba to advance whenever necessary. Solskjaer's overall United ethic to strike with both width and energy was a significant improvement on what Mourinho's team had to offer, but their ability to control the engine room and give Pogba a chance to increase was vital for that to happen .

Ander Herrera José Mourinho Manchester United

Mourinho was too paranoid and particular to allow United to leave a fixed structure most of the time, while Solskjaer reversed them to a more typically Man Utd approach, abandoning the shackles and giving a new edge to his attack.

Without Herrera, there would be far less control in United's midfield, which allowed them to give the front-runner the space to have fun. What it offers is an unmatched work rate elsewhere in the United ranks. His attendance rate per game of 0.27 compares favorably to Georginio Wijnaldum, Fernandinho and No. Kante Kante this season, while he managed much more work than any other trio with 3.36 tackles for 90 minutes and 2 , 83 interceptions. .

He has also been the instigator of many of the counterattacks that United has wreaked havoc without thinking about looking up and immediately hitting a long and low pass for a teammate to play his side in the attacking phase.

All this helped to ensure that Herrera was the ballast that previously lacked in United's midfield. The former Athletic Bilbao player started just 33 of the 80 games between Matic coming in the summer of 2017 and Mourinho being kicked out in December last year, and when he was hired, he was never used as a tool to free Pogba.

Ander Herrera Paul Pogba from Manchester United

Ander Herrera Manchester United

Now it's being used just for that purpose, and both Pogba and United are thriving as a result. The Frenchman scored five goals and watched five more in eight matches, with another almost losing lead to Anthony Martial's victory in the FA Cup final against Arsenal, and the Reds are impeccable in that period.

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Solskjaer hit a winner in the engine room, and while Marcus Rashford's advanced trio, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard have garnered much attention, there should be no underestimation of the impact that Herrera had.

The United board obviously has a pretty big decision to make between now and the end of the season when considering whether Solskjaer has what it takes to get them back to where they belong in the long run. But another – certainly much more direct – the dilemma relates to Herrera's contract.

In the current form, it would be crazy not to offer the fan favorite a new contract. There are not many players in this world with Arturo Vidal's ability to work, desire, endurance and pass, but Ander Herrera is proving to be one of them.


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