Ander Herrera has revealed that he was scalded by Louis van Gaal when he first arrived at Manchester United, because he chased the ball too much.
Speaking in a candid interview with El Pais, as relayed by the Daily Mirror, the Spanish midfielder also told how Wayne Rooney likes to insult members of the squad in Spanish, and how the dressing room was less focused on the hierarchy in place following the departures of Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes from the first-team squad.
Herrera at United
After a rough start to life in Manchester, one that was dogged by rumours that Herrera might not be cut out for English football, the ex-Athletic Bilbao man has turned his fortunes around, and his showing against Liverpool at the weekend - where he threaded a neat pass through for Juan Mata to open the scoring - was another impressive one.
Yet Herrera has inferred that he has had to adapt his game at Old Trafford, perhaps offering a reason as to why he looked sluggish to begin with. The 25-year-old told how Van Gaal ‘told him off’ for a tendency he had when he first arrived on English shores, and the change he had to make as a result.
Changes in his game
"Van Gaal loves possession and doesn't like to risk [losing] the ball. He wants long possessions and to keep the ball because he believes you create spaces staying in the right place, because the team have the quality to find you," he said.
"At the beginning he used to tell me off because I always looked for the ball, I wanted to have it, and I must wait for it."
Not stopping there though Herrera also offered an insight into the different characters of the dressing room, painting captain Rooney as something of a joker, and describing him as outgoing.
Rooney insults and dressing room hierarchy
"Rooney is outgoing and insults us in Spanish. I'd rather talk to him about football because he likes boxing and could try with me," Herrera continued.
Last but not least the Spanish playmaker then revealed that compatriot David de Gea had told him that the dressing room this season was less hierarchical than in times previous. De Gea was at the club when the likes of Giggs and Scholes were still running the show, and supposedly told Herrera that things had changed since their respective retirements.
"There's a lot of respect for Rooney & Carrick, but De Gea says the dressing room used to be more hierarchic with Rio, Scholes, Giggs."
Changes in the future
In stark contrast to the feeling during the early days of his United career - coincidentally similar to the general view of De Gea’s first few months with the club - Herrera looks like he can go on to become a key asset in Van Gaal’s setup.
Another summer of transition is expected as the Dutchman spends more money on accumulating the best players to be found, and midfielders may well be on his shopping list. Yet if they are there’s others who could be more at risk of the chop that Herrera - Marouane Fellaini for instance - though the Basque-born player will have to enjoy a solid run in to be sure over his claim for the future.
United fans, how important might Herrera be for the first-team in years to come? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below...