Leadership is a funny thing in football. It’s absolutely necessary, but most of the times is underestimated. One thing is certain, though. Every successful team needs to have several “leaders”. Whether they are on and off the pitch, they are something every single football team in the world needs to be successful. This is the case at Manchester United as well.
The Red Devils have “football” leaders; these are players that the team turn to when things get complicated. Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial would qualify in that category. Past examples could also be Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes, just to name a few.
We can also find the “dressing room” leaders; these are lads that motivate their teammates and take of the guys, while becoming an important presence when it comes to voice an opinion. David De Gea, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are three examples of these type of players. They are often associated with experience. Other players in recent memory could be Rooney, Gary Neville, and Rio Ferdinand.
However, there’s one player that is often not mentioned when it comes to being a “leader” on the squad. We’re talking about Ander Herrera.
An unsung leader among the squad
The Spaniard has been at Old Trafford since 2014 and while he hasn’t always been a regular starter, such has been the case since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The former Athletic Bilbao star is the perfect link between Nemanja Matic and Pogba, and has been playing at a very high level over the past few months. But he grabbed several headlines following United’s 2-0 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup this past Monday.
Once the match ended, Herrera went straight to Alexis Sanchez and started lifting him up and hugging him. The Chilean returned the hug and responded with a smile, but that’s not a small thing. Think about it – when was the last time anyone saw Sanchez smiling following a United match? He’s going through a tough time at the moment, and he’s the type of player that needs to feel confidence and love to perform at his best. That’s exactly what Herrera did with him.
That’s not an easy thing to do, and it speaks volumes of the kind of player – and person – Herrera is. He embodies what being a Manchester United player is, and it’s time we stop taking him for granted. The Spaniard is captain material, and has enough experience as a United player to eventually claim that role in the future. He needs to continue playing as a regular starter first, but it seems that’s not going to change any time soon. Solskjaer loves him, and he has been playing very well in recent weeks.
Manchester United have something special with him. And he needs to remain in the club for as long as necessary.