Ander Herrera has once again emerged as one of Manchester United’s most important players.
As he seems to do every season, Herrera has found a niche to fill and is back in contention to actually start games of importance now. With Juventus and Manchester City on the horizon, the Spaniard should be playing for The Red Devils.
But should he be captaining the side? Sure, Ashley Young will probably wear the armband in Antonio Valencia’s stead, but do either man deserve to lead United out? Should they be leading United out? Well, probably not. In truth Ander Herrera is the ideal candidate to become Manchester United’s full-time club captain. Why? Here are six reasons why this “no. 6” should be United skipper!
1. he loves Manchester
Now that football is more of a squad game, teams are usually full of leadership figures rather than relying on one central figurehead to be The Leader. And with the increase in club’s use of social media, the captain has now become something of a club ambassador when it comes to charity visits, public projects, etc.
This is why Ander Herrera is ideal. He’s a charming, personable guy who loves the city of Manchester. It’s easy to look across town and see the way Vincent Kompany has embraced being a “Manc” and notice similarities to Ander. This is a guy who was just walking around the city after signing, getting to know his new home. Or who likes to spend time just hanging out in the city’s northern quarter.
Ander truly loves the city. He’s a man of the people and as captain he would bring the club closer to the fans.
2. he is tactically versatile
When your captain isn’t one of your best players, you can face a problem with finding ways to incorporate them into the team without just wedging them in for the sake of it. But as mentioned before, Ander is often in the position of having to re-establish himself at Old Trafford.
Since his arrival he’s played a number of different midfield roles, ranging from no. 10 to no. 8 (in about 8 different ways) to no. 6 to man-marking half-back. He’s done each with supreme commitment and remarkable competence. So he would always find a way to squeeze into the side, keeping United’s captain on the field at all times.
3. he is a model pro
Off the field and in training, Ander Herrera is a supreme professional. He speaks in post-match interviews with clarity, confidence and class. All through his time at Old Trafford you never heard any dissent. He has been horribly treated by every coach, yet he’s never whined to the press nor ask for a move away. He’s always kept his head down, worked harder, and found himself something to do. What a shining example you would want any young player at the club to look up to.
4. he is sneaky nasty
Steve Bruce, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney… what one trait would you say all of Manchester United’s good recent captains had in common? If you said “a nasty streak” then you’d be right. Every United captain needs to be a bit dirty, it’s just part of the job. And despite being a lovely man and a model pro, on the field Herrera is not afraid to and indeed quite relishes getting stuck in. The enthusiasm with which he sticks the boot in makes him perfect to be skipper.
5. he loves Manchester United
Back in his Athletic Bilbao days, Ander was part of the Basque side that was managed by Marcelo Bielsa and rocked up to Old Trafford in the Europa League only to smacked the chewing gum right out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s mouth. No side other than Barcelona had given Ferguson’s United such a beating, but Herrera was central to the side that did.
Notably, he was fanboying about the club all the while. Taking pictures around Old Trafford, grinning like an idiot. And since signing he has come out and said that he would have only ever left Athletic for a club like United.
And when he wore the armband in 2018/19’s pre-season tour of the USA, he spoke about it as a truly special honour: “I am really proud to have been the Manchester United captain,” he said, “but even if I am not the captain, I am proud anyway. As soon as I represent this club, I feel proud and I always give my best.”
A great captain loves his club, and Ander Herrera ruddy loves him some Manchester United.
6. he makes his team-mates better
It’s not focused so much on now, but a captain should be an inspirational figure. Not just in the locker room, snarling and doing his take on Henry V at Agincourt to rouse his team-mates at the name of United. That’s all well and good, but he then must be able to lead his band of brothers into battle and help them there.
That’s where Ander Herrera flourishes because nearly all of his “game” is built around making his team-mates better. That’s why he’s such a good no. 8 and no. 6, because he’s not a selfish player but also is one who knows how to take command. He can bend the tempo of a match to his will and use his passing and positional skill to make team-mates, in particular the phenomenal Paul Pogba, perform to a higher level.
And ultimately, that’s what a captain must do.