Is Ander Herrera the right man to emulate Paul Scholes?


Jul 23, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera (21) passes the ball against the Los Angeles Galaxy during the second half at Rose Bowl. Manchester United defeated Los Angeles Galaxy 7-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Manchester United have faltered so far this season and many are starting to believe that the form of last season was no fluke with the Red Devils winning one of their opening five games.

The ‘new galacticos’ signings can’t even help the Old Trafford side at the moment and failure to find a consistent rhythm has left United in the bottom half of the table.

Louis van Gaal has come in and changed the style of play and it’s noticeable on the pitch. United are a joy to watch and they’re scoring goals, however, they’re conceding them too.

On the weekend the 20-time league champions travelled to Leicester City, and the Red Devils threw away a two goal lead to lose 5-3. One positive note from the game a goal for Angel Di maria and another for new signing Ander Herrera.

Arriving from Spanish side Athletic Bilbao for £30million, the 25 year-old has slotted in perfectly under LVG. His ability to be tactically aware as well as finding a key pass is something United have been missing.

He is mobile and runs with plenty of energy which has given the team a boost. His goal was pure skill with a bit of luck, but the back-heel finish reminds fans of another player who cemented his legacy at the club, Paul Scholes.

The ex-United player was perhaps the best player to wear a United shirt and he has never been replaced since. His 107 goals in the league for a central midfielder, his assists and range of passing were one of a kind.

United now have Michael Carrick, Daley Blind, Darren Fletcher and Anderson among their ranks, but the closest to Scholes could be the little Spaniard.

What we have noticed in the first few games of the season is his style suits that of Scholes. He doesn’t have the ability to hold and spray passes, but like the 39 year-old but he has the box-to-box requirements which made Scholes so successful especially in the goals department.

The Spaniard has already scored two goals in three games this season and both have been arriving late in the box. His goal against Leicester saw him come from deep when Rafael delivered the first initial cross, before he came from deep midfield to power home from 18 yards against Queens Park Rangers.

It is good to see and United finally feel like they have a midfielder who can score goals.

The ability to shoot is another asset. Herrera managed over 60 attempted shots last year which is equivalent to two per game. Scholes scored plenty of show stoppers in his time and Herrera can do the same if bringing that attitude to the Theatre of Dreams.

Herrera’s decision making in his passing has also been a pleasure to watch and his 89% pass accuracy justifies that. He rarely gives the ball away and his ability to find little gaps in the opposition helps the rest of the team.

Scholes completed 92% of his passes in his last season and that was in the twilight of his career which shows how great he really was.

But the signs are there, and they’re growing each time Herrera steps on the pitch and shows his swagger.

It is hard to say how good he can be because the results aren’t delivering at the moment. If United had won all five of their games then people would be talking in a different context and rightly so. The midfield is very good, in fact world class but the battling midfielder that’s needed isn’t there.

Kevin Strootman could be ideal. A perfect fit at number 6, he would provide that tough tackling presence that the creative players need.

Roy Keane did the job for Scholes and, intimidating everybody that faced him. While United are lacking a Keane replacement, Chelsea have Nemanja Matic, while Manchester City have Fernando- these are the type of players that win the key battles on the pitch.

Herrera is a guaranteed starter in the diamond midfield at the moment but it will be interesting to see how he copes with the Christmas period that will see United play many games.