English Premiership

Herrera happy to plug gaps for United

2015-08-28 10:10
Herrera and Rooney (Supplied)
Herrera and Rooney (Supplied)

Bruges - Ander Herrera says he is willing to play in any position for Manchester United, despite having struggled in a midfield holding role in their Champions League play-off against Club Brugge.

Manager Louis van Gaal admitted that he had considered taking Herrera off after the Spaniard played a succession of loose passes and picked up an early booking in Wednesday's play-off round second leg in Bruges.

The 26-year-old improved in the second half after being moved into a central playmaking role, teeing up the second goal of Wayne Rooney's hat-trick and scoring United's fourth goal in a 4-0 win, but he said he would happily fill in as a defensive midfielder again.

"I am not selfish. I think about the team and this is how I play," Herrera told reporters at Jan Breydel Stadium after his side completed a 7-1 aggregate victory that qualified them for the group phase.

"I am happier playing. If I have to play holding midfielder, I will do.

"Last season, I played more as a holding midfielder than as a number 10, but if I have to play as a number 10, then I want to help my team by scoring and assisting."

Popular with the club's supporters, Herrera signed from Athletic Bilbao last year for a reported fee of 29 million ($44.7 million, 39.7 million euros), which makes him United's fifth most expensive signing.

It took him time to earn Van Gaal's trust, but despite a strong end to last season, the recent signings of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger have seen him drop down the pecking order again.

However, he does not believe that focusing on one position would aid his chances of holding down a first-team place.

"I think it is dependable on the opposition," Herrera added. "Against an attacking opponent, maybe it is better to play as a number 10.

"But if it is a team waiting for you, maybe best as a holding midfielder. But I always say the same: I will play where the manager wants me to play."

Another player straining for a foothold at Old Trafford is Mexican striker Javier Hernandez, who is hoping to convince Van Gaal of his worth after spending last season on loan at Real Madrid.

He endured an evening to forget in Bruges, missing a late penalty after slipping as he struck the ball and then ballooning a cross from fellow substitute Ashley Young over an empty net from close range.

Rooney would ordinarily have taken the spot-kick, but having already completed his hat-trick at that point - bringing an end to a 10-game goal drought - he stood aside to give Hernandez an opportunity to score.

"It was a great gesture," said Herrera of his captain's actions.

"It was unselfish, but this shows he is always thinking of the team.

"He knew it was important for Chicharito to score, so he gave the ball to him.

"When you are a star, that kind of thing is not so usual, so we are lucky to have Wayne with us."

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