“Jose, I am ready if you need me to man-mark him, to follow him everywhere. If he wants to go to the bathroom, I will go with him because I want to win the game.”
Those were Ander Herrera’s words to Jose Mourinho before Manchester United’s Premier League game against Chelsea on April 16, 2017.
The Spanish midfielder was talking about Eden Hazard. He was prepared to be Hazard’s shadow for the entire 90 minutes, frustrating Chelsea’s star man at every move.
And their plan worked. Hazard was ineffective as Man United won 2-0.
It was redemption for Herrera, who had been sent off just weeks before when United were beaten by Chelsea in the FA Cup.
But he was the star of the show at Old Trafford, scoring once, setting up another and reducing Hazard to an anonymous display.
His man-marking job on Hazard has been captured in a YouTube video and it’s incredible to watch. Herrera was like glue, sticking to Hazard wherever he went.
In an interview with The Athletic earlier this year, Herrera, who left Man United for Paris Saint-Germain in 2019, revealed how he and Mourinho came up with the plan to limit Hazard’s threat.
"Jose and I both knew Hazard was the best player, by far, in the Premier League at the time, so if we wanted to win that game, we needed him not to touch the ball, or at least as little as possible,” he said.
"The most important thing in football is that my team wins, because then I go to sleep happy.
“It does not matter what you have to do, as long as you respect the rules and don't do anything illegal."
Man United fans had seen a similar man-marking job seven years before, when Park Ji-sung pocketed AC Milan’s Andrea Pirlo in the Champions League.
Everywhere Pirlo went across the course of two legs, Park followed. So frustrated was the Italian midfielder that he later wrote in his autobiography: “[Park] must have been the first nuclear powered South Korean in history.”
Click HERE to watch highlights of that iconic duel.News Now - Sport News