Quick links

Manchester United

Have Manchester United finally got their new Scholes with Herrera?

The Old Trafford legend has never really been replaced at United, but the club's new signing is about as close as they could wish to get.

In Ander Herrera, Manchester United may be able to reintroduce a style of player so traditionally Manchester United in nature, yet so blatantly absent in recent season at Old Trafford.

The likes of United legends Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and Paul Scoles were all outstanding footballers, technically strong and superb passers, yet totally able to give as good as they got when it came to midfield battles.

Scholes was the longest serving of these players, and his initial retirement in 2011 was such a blow to United's style of play that Sir Alex Ferguson talked him into pulling his boots on just 6 months later at the age of 37.

That was always going to be a short term measure though, and with both manager and player now firmly retired, the club knew they had to bring in somebody that could do both the beautiful and ugly sides of the game well.

Last summer that led to their chase of Athletic Bilbao's Ander Herrera, who at 23-years-old, was a technically gifted Spanish midfielder more than happy to get stuck in. He had already been a success at the European Under-21 championships in 2011, and had impressed Ferguson as Athletic defeated United in the Europa League knockout round in 2012.

The deal, set to be David Moyes' first, didn't transpire then, and now Herrera has instead become Louis van Gaal's first addition, after joining yesterday for around £30 million.

Not yet a prolific goalscorer, Herrera did suffer an upturn in finding the net at the end of last season, with 3 of his 5 goals coming in the last half a dozen La Liga games of the campaign. This is something he may seek to improve, and it is encouraging that he hit somewhat of a purple patch in this regard ahead of his move.

Herrera played most often in the number 10 role for Bilbao in the season just gone, a position United are more than well stocked in, and may find himself in a more central role under Van Gaal, utilising his technical and passing skills alongside his undeniable combative ability. The midfielder made more successful tackles than any player called up for Spain for the World Cup in Brazil.

Like Scholes, he seems to have had problems with his tackling though - or rather, his tackling in relation to accumulating yellow and red cards. The 2013-14 season actually indicated an improvement in this department, as he received 7 yellow cards without seeing a red, significantly down from some previous years when he got as many as 12 yellows, while the 24-year-old already has a huge 5 red cards across his La Liga career.

Sure to be a key man for the Reds, it will be interesting to see who Van Gaal selects alongside him, especially considering his willingness to play pure midfield enforcers like Nigel de Jong as part of his side. At the moment, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini would likely vie for the position, though the Belgian has looked much stronger at the World Cup in an advanced role.

It may see United go back in for William Carvalho, another outstanding young midfield talent, though that transfer will also cost upwards of £25 million.

Whoever comes in alongside Herrera, and fellow new signing Luke Shaw, it looks like it is once more an exciting time to be a Manchester United fan. 

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch