Football

Ander Herrera has to leave Manchester United this summer

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Ander Herrera must look to leave Manchester United at the end of the season as Louis van Gaal continues to foolishly overlook the midfielder, because of his lack of appreciation for the very same attributes that earned the Spaniard a big-money move to Old Trafford last summer.

The pragmatic playing style that's been instilled by the Dutch coach during his debut campaign in charge is far removed from the traditional attacking philosophy that players thrived under the former stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson, and the £29 million signing from Athletic Bilbao looks like being the first high-profile casualty of this infuriatingly unimaginative new era.

Van Gaal was appointed to steady the ship after David Moyes' disastrous 10-month spell in charge at the Theatre of Dreams, which culminated in the Red Devils ending 2013/14 in seventh place - their lowest ever finish in the Premier League era.

Failure to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 19 years - or indeed any European competition - prompted key decision makers into swift action at Manchester United's top table, resulting in the old Everton boss' dismissal and the arrival of the former Netherlands head coach after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

However, despite all the early promise procured from Van Gaal's impressive CV following successful stints at illustrious sides like Ajax, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, even the most optimistic of board members must surely be struggling to convince the club's ardent supporters that the performances delivered have been what was expected.

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Herrera's continued exclusion from Manchester United's starting XI is just one of a number of issues currently angering fans. The 25-year-old has completed 90 minutes only once since the shock 5-3 defeat against Leicester City back in September, and although injuries have played a part in his absence he's been unable to nail down a regular spot in the side.

After returning from his latest setback, the midfielder is yet to start any game, and he was only deemed good enough for the substitutes bench again in last night's FA Cup fourth round replay versus League Two outfit Cambridge United.

He played the full game against Yeovil Town at Huish Park in the previous round and scored a brilliant goal to stake his claim for more regular action, but his on-pitch appeals continue to be ignored by the Manchester United manager.

It took a matter of minutes for Herrera to make an impact on Tuesday's game, teeing up fellow substitute James Wilson for the third and final goal of the comfortable 3-0 victory, playing a precise forward pass that the Red Devils academy graduate latched onto and finished to put the tie to bed.

That represented the Spaniard's fourth assist in 15 appearances for Manchester United this season; not a bad conversion rate from the 20 chances he's created so far this season. His fearless approach has drawn plenty of plaudits, but supporters have been restricted to a small amount of enjoyable displays as Van Gaal continues to favour industry over adventure.

All the more frustrating then when you consider that Herrera has proved capable of combining the free-flowing offensive football that's ingrained in his make-up with additional defensive responsibilities.

His statistics certainly match up to favoured personnel like Michael Carrick and Daley Blind, with the Daily Telegraph reporting his contribution of 27 tackles, eight clearances, three blocks and 10 fouls committed in 786 minutes, although it's clear he prefers less backwards and sideways passes - but that's no bad thing!

So far Herrera has toed the party line by stating he's happy to wait patiently for his chance to show what he can do on a more regular basis, but the longer that goes on there must surely be doubts creeping into his mind.

"I'm going to be ready always for the team...of course I want to play," - Ander Herrera

"When the manager wants me to help the team I am going to be ready, of course," he was quoted saying by The Guardian last week. "I am at Manchester United and we have a very good squad with very good players and it is not easy but of course I am going to work hard.

"I'm going to be ready always for the team because everyone wants to play the next season in the Champions League and of course I want to play."

Van Gaal reacted angrily when questioned about Herrera's absence at a recent press conference, and the fact he was overlooked again for the Cambridge clash suggests he could be a victim of the 63-year-old's stubborn-mindedness, if he thinks he'll lose face by caving in to increasing pressure from spectators and pundits to start playing the midfielder more regularly.

It's unlikely that the Iron Tulip will be leaving his Old Trafford post any time soon, so a move away from Manchester United could be Herrera's only solution.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Manchester United
Louis van Gaal
Ander Herrera

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