With the giant Belgian unavailable for the trip to face Aston Villa today, Ander Herrera looks likely to get a start.
The Dutch manager has seemingly got Marouane Fellaini back on track after a tricky start to life at Old Trafford for the Belgian last term, with the former Everton enforcer playing his part in the Red Devils’ upturn in fortunes.
Fellaini is set to miss the trip to Villa Park however, with the giant midfielder suffering from illness.
Despite the 27-year-old being in good form, his absence may well be something of a blessing in disguise as Ander Herrera looks likely to be given the nod by Van Gaal to play in his place.
The Spanish midfielder has been the man to miss out in United’s midfield in recent weeks but in the long run looks like possessing the playmaking abilities and energy that the club have been missing in the centre of the park in recent years.
Herrera has at times this season shown why United tried to sign him in two transfer windows, eventually shelling out a fee believed to be in the region of £28 million to pry him away from Athletic Bilbao.
The 25-year-old has looked comfortable in possession and has linked up well with a number of United’s other attacking players with neat and tidy footwork, while his running off the ball has seen him pop up regularly in goalscoring positions.
Van Gaal may well be focusing on results rather than performances currently, but in the long run the Dutch maestro will look for his side to play a high-tempo, possession-based style of football - Herrera has all the attributes to be a key man in this tactic proving successful.
The Spaniard is also caught up in match-fixing allegations from his time at Real Zaragoza and as such will be keen to get on the pitch and perform to detract from this negative press.
If he is selected to feature today his battle with Fabian Delph should be an interesting one, while for United to progress to play the attractive and flowing attacking football that the fans have become accustomed to, getting Herrera at the top of his game is important.