Ander Herrera could be the new Paul Scholes

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I remember watching the pre-match build up to the Manchester derby just over a week ago, and being shocked to hear Graeme Souness saying "I don't know what he does" regarding Ander Herrera.

I couldn't believe Souness, who himself was a quality central midfielder, was saying this, and it made me question his knowledge of the game, or at least how much he'd actually watched Herrera play. I could see Niall Quinn sitting next to him with a questioning look on his face.

It is rather difficult to fathom because, the thing about Herrera, for anyone whose been watching him these last few weeks or following him in La Liga for the last couple of years, is that he does almost everything!

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All action

True, he's not going to be a big physical presence in the middle of the park, dominating the midfield with raw power, but he more than makes up for it in tenacity (have a look at how many tackles he makes per-game for a midfielder), and Marouane Fellaini more than makes up for this in the United team.

But he can do everything else you'd want from an all action midfielder. He can pick a pass, both intricate threaded balls in between the gaps in a defence, or sweeping long range passes when necessary.

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What's even better than his excellent long and short range passing is the speed with which he can move the ball, and the rarity that he'll play it backwards. He's constantly looking to keep United moving forward with his passing, and it's a testament to his ability that his pass completion rates are so high, particularly considering he isn't shuffling the balls backwards or sideways constantly.

Furthermore, he moves it fast, rarely taking more than a couple of touches before moving it on, which keeps the focus of our attacks dynamic, and stopping our play from slowing down too much.


What's more, he scores goals. This has been the most raved about attribute in recent weeks since he's come a bit more into the limelight, and with good reason. His shots to goal ratio has been a much lauded statistic, and rightly so.

As many have said, United have been missing goals from midfield since Paul Scholes retired, and though he's certainly not the only one whose started scoring from United's midfield, it's the fact that unlike Mata and Fellaini (who both have been playing high up the pitch), he's got the specific role of going box-to-box.

Louis van Gaal has clearly asked him to contribute as much defensively as he does going forward (unlike Fellaini, who clearly has been asked to provide an out-ball for United whenever possible, a wise decision from Van Gaal), and yet in spite of this he's still scoring.

This is a testament to his engine and willingness to work, because despite him clearly contributing a lot offensively (his assists and goals demonstrating this), he certainly doesn't shirk his defensive abilities.

Apart from Daley Blind, Herrera has made the most tackles of United's midfielders, and only Antonio Valencia and Blind having made more in the whole squad. When you watch him play, he seems to be everywhere, making tackles, linking play in the middle of the park, and getting in and around the box when we're pressing.

Scholes successor

He can also beat a man and run with the ball. Though this certainly isn't his best attribute, similarly to Scholes, he can use his touch to beat a man without needing blistering pace, taking them out of the game before finding a team mate.

But, in addition to these obvious attributes, which certainly shouldn't go unnoticed, he brings something I've not seen many others comment on so far: communication. He's constantly talking to his team mates around him (look out for it next time you watch him play).

This is so important for a linking central midfielder who clearly has a good understanding of the game, helping team-mates be aware of the broader tactical picture and aiding their awareness of opposition players around them.

I think it's an unsung and unbelievably valuable characteristic of his which will only improve as his English gets better, although he seems to already have a decent command of the language.

Herrera is finally providing that box-to-box tenacity and ability the side has been missing since Scholesy, and which everyone hoped, forlornly, Tom Cleverly would become.

But it doesn't seem to be enough for Souness, who said the 25-year-old "looks like he's still a kid" (paraphrasing). First and foremost, it's thoroughly unimportant and, what's more, it paints a totally warped image of him. He's a player who's had nearly half a decade playing top flight football in La Liga for a quality side, and I thought the money we paid for him was a comparative bargain.

I am certain he will go from strength to strength for United, and become a mainstay of our midfield for years to come, and I'm sure Graeme Souness will be made to eat his words, if he hasn't already.

Manchester United fans: Is Ander Herrera the new Paul Scholes? Let us know below!

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Paul Scholes
Premier League
Manchester United
Graeme Souness
Ander Herrera

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