Jose Mourinho says he was happy that Ander Herrera disobeyed him in Europa League final

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In Jose Mourinho's first season in charge of Manchester United, one of the biggest success stories was the form of Spanish midfielder, Ander Herrera.

The former Athletic Bilbao man was instrumental in the Red Devils winning both the EFL Cup and the Europa League before deservedly picking up the club's Player of the Season award.

Tenacious, hard-working and skillful, Herrera is the perfect player for Mourinho's robust style and his regular use of the dark arts will only endear him more to the manager.


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However, in the Europa League final against Ajax, the Spaniard did something very few would dare attempt, he went against Mourinho's orders.

Usually, the authoritarian manager would be furious but instead, he lavished praise upon Herrera's intelligence and it is understandable why.

In the 48th minute of the game when United had a corner, the midfielder changed roles with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, putting the Armenian winger in front of the keeper while Herrera took up a position on the edge of the box.

Mkhitaryan would go on to score from the resulting corner, putting Mourinho's side 2-0 up and effectively killing off any hopes of a revival from the youthful Dutch side.

But, this was not why the manager was so happy, instead, he was overjoyed about a more obscure aspect of the incident.

Ajax v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Final

Speaking in a lecture at the University of Lisbon, noted by Petter Skogsletten on Reddit, Mourinho explained the reason why he said Herrera is 'one of the smartest players he's ever had'.

"Mourinho talked a lot about Herrera, saying he is one of the smartest players he has had during his career," said Skogsletten.

He added: "Herrera took hold of the Mkhitaryan and sent him in front of the keeper, while Herrera would take the pitch outside the box. Mourinho said he was so frustrated that he said 'What the hell is going on?'.

Ajax v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Final

"It turned out Herrera had taken responsibility in the situation - Mkhitaryan had a yellow card. If Ajax suddenly counterattacked and Mkhitaryan had fouled the player, he would have been sent off.

"Mourinho said he is incredibly pleased to have such players who can handle situations on their own and adjust."

Preventing a potential red card and helping your team score? Not bad from Herrera.

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Ander Herrera
Europa League

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