Spanish newspaper Marca are at a loss to explain why Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal overlooked midfielder Ander Herrera for Saturday's 1-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace - and hint that the veteran Dutch coach may have a problem with the Spain international and his teammate Juan Mata.
Both players were left out of United's starting line-up, but it was Mata who came off the bench to earn Van Gaal a precious three points with a fortuitous second-half strike.
Meanwhile Herrera, whose last appearance came against West Brom last month, was left on the subs' bench.
Marca make the valid point that Van Gaal is "not achieving a return" on his €36 million investment paid for Herrera by leaving him on the bench. The Spaniard impressed on his first few appearances for the Red Devils before suffering a fractured rib during September's 2-1 win over West Ham.
That kept the former Athletic Bilbao star out of action for several weeks, before he made his return in the 2-2 draw against West Brom. Herrera struggled to make an impact at the Hawthorns, though, and was subbed off at half-time for Fellaini, who has retained his place in United's central midfield ever since.
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After being left out against Chelsea and Manchester City, last weekend's home clash against Palace appeared the perfect opportunity for Van Gaal to deploy £90,000-a-week Herrera, whose confidence must have taken another untimely blow after being left on the bench ahead of the international break.
Manchester United have taken a disappointing 16 points from their opening 11 matches and currently find themselves seventh in the Premier League table.
While much has been made of the Red Devils' defensive frailties, the 20-time English champions have also struggled to score as many goals as fans must have expected they would after spending so much money in the summer transfer window.
Chelsea, Southampton, Manchester City, West Ham, Arsenal and Everton have all outscored United so far this season. Van Gaal's side lack balance, with the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach still unsure of his best starting line-up or even his best formation.
Whether Mata's winning goal proves enough to earn the Spaniard in United's starting line-up against Arsenal later this month is doubtful. Van Gaal has reiterated that Wayne Rooney, as the club's captain, will always start every match - which has subsequently plunged Mata's future at Old Trafford into uncertainty.News Now - Sport News