Ander Herrera insists he remains optimistic ahead of Manchester United’s FA Community Shield clash at Wembley against the Champions, Leicester City, despite a 4-1 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the sweltering heat in Shanghai. The midfielder was keen to ensure the fans that they will be ready for the new season immediately after the final whistle, when speaking to MUTV, by admitting getting the win becomes the most important objective when the competitive games begin but for now it is all about increasing their fitness levels.
“We are a team and we all want to be fit as soon as possible, that is why we are working so hard in these days. Just yesterday, we trained two times so you can feel it on the pitch but, of course, we want to be ready for Leicester and we want to win the first title of the season. So that is the most important thing, when you play real games.”
The game against the German opposition was Jose Mourinho’s second game in charge of the Red Devils with the Bundesliga outfit also being much further into their preparation for the new season, respectively. However, United’s number 21 felt the game would have done the side a world of good in terms of fitness.
“I think it was a good workout, they are a very good team and they have already played five games. That is one of the most important things in football, when you have already played games, you are fitter and you are better. But we have no excuses. We are Man United, we shouldn’t lose and we want to win every game. But, this pre-season, we want to put minutes in our legs and I think we can be satisfied but, of course, Man United never wants to lose.”
The former Athletic Bilbao man conceded that despite building up the squad’s fitness being the priority target during pre-season the side cannot keep making excuses for such a poor outing.
“When you have played five games you can say that you arrive one second before the opponent. It is a very important thing, but we don’t want to make excuses. They are a very good team, they played fantastically and we missed some chances. But I have said before, they just arrived one second earlier. But I think we are improving, we are building a fantastic team and we are optimistic, of course.”
The 26-year-old, who turns 27 in August, ended on a high note with a very positive message to the United faithful in terms of how he understands the new manager wants the side to play their football.
“One of the things that we have realised already is that every player is very clear with what they have to do. We want very aggressive players in midfield, we want to have the ball but not just have the ball. We want to attack, he wants to attack and I think we are going to see a very offensive Man United. But, of course, when we want to be compact then we are going to do that as well.”
Personally, I do not feel you can read too much into the defeat against Dortmund, it was against a group that has been together for much longer than the reds, in better physical condition and in ridiculous heat where a lack of fitness is telling. It is not a time for alarm bells, the Portuguese manager, Mourinho, is still getting to grips with the squad and has already admitted since the defeat that some of the players that participated may not be wearing a Manchester United shirt come 1st September. Although, I would expect to see a better performance against Manchester City on Monday who are at a similar stage in terms of preparation for the up and coming season.
As for Ander Herrera, can I see him being part of the squad next season? Yes, I can. It is a long rigorous season, especially with Europa League football where the players can pick up a lot of air miles which may lead to fatigue and tiredness so replacements of quality will be needed. Furthermore, if Jose Mourinho wants aggressive midfielders then he would more than likely take a liking to Herrera who can show signs of fierceness when defending. I do not think the Spaniard will be a starter week in week out, although I would expect to see him coming on from the bench quite often, other than that I can only imagine him getting the odd start when games are coming thick and fast, particularly around that busy Christmas period. I would assume he will play the box-to-box midfield role as opposed to the anchor man role that I would assume Michael Carrick and Morgan Schneiderlin will perform. Ultimately, I feel Ander Herrera will begin as a squad player under Mourinho and will have to fight and perform exceptionally well should he want to nail down a regular starting spot, especially with the former Chelsea manager admitting United are in the market for a midfielder before the transfer window slams shut.