Andy Herrera is feeling good about playing under Jose Mourinho according to the Daily Mail. Ander Herrera has credited Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Manchester United with the fact that he has finally been recognised by his country.
Herrera could make his long awaited Spain debut on Sunday against Albania, having been called up to the senior team for the first time since the London Olympics.
He told El Correo: ‘It’s been difficult to get back because this is the fifth season since the Olympics. I’m overjoyed because I have fought hard for it. I know that in the two years under [Louis] van Gaal I was not in the United team enough to be called up.
‘Now with Mourinho I’m feeling good. He is putting faith in me and giving me that chance to play regularly in a top side. Now I have to show that I deserve to stay in the United XI and deserve to keep getting the call to join the Spain squad.’
Herrera suffered more than most in two miserable seasons under Van Gaal but he says Mourinho has taken the shackles off team’s more attacking players.
Asked about the hopes in the Spain camp that he can offer goals with shots from distance (something that has been lacking since the departure of Xavi and Xabi Alonso) Herrera said: ‘Mourinho encourages me to do it. I scored recently in the cup and I have hit the post from long-range too.
‘Mourinho gives you more freedom as a player; he wants the player’s instinct to come through. It’s true that you then have to have that defensive order but he tells us to let that if that instinct guides us on the pitch then we should try things.’
Those orders contrast with the Van Gaal seasons when there were tales from Carrington that Angel di Maria was told not to dribble and others had to put pre-rehearsed team strategies ahead of situations that occurred during games.
Herrera has been drafted into the Spain squad for his attacking midfield qualities but it’s in a more defensive role that he is settling into Mourinho’s plans.
‘It’s true that I’m playing just in front of the defence and in a slightly more defensive role than my partner, be it Paul [Pogba] or Marouane Fellaini. But I have also been the more attacking of the two if I’m paired with Michael Carrick. It’s important for me to be able to offer various solutions to the manager. I think he values what I can offer in terms of turning defence into attack.
‘The first step was to get myself in the squad; then to get on the pitch and then to become a regular fixture. Right now I just want to play for Spain against Albania and then beat Liverpool next Monday.’
Spain are top of their group after drawing with Italy in midweek and are expected to beat Albania tonight. But Herrera has warned against complacency and will be using a tactic learned from his new boss to make sure there are no slip-ups.
He says: ‘Albania didn’t just have a good Euros they had a great qualifying too. In these games, the longer the game goes on the harder it gets.
‘It’s like the FA or League Cup in England. You play against a Championship side or a League One team and if you haven’t scored against them in the first 15 minutes then that’s a victory for them. If they make it to the half-hour without conceding then that’s another little victory. And they grow as the games goes on. That is what Mourinho told us before the last EFL game.’
Herrera won the U-21 Euros in 2011 with current team-mates David de Gea and Juan Mata in the side.
New Spain coach Julen Lopetegui is more opening to looking beyond the borders of La Liga than his predecessor Vicente del Bosque so his change in fortunes under Mourinho has come at the perfect time.
‘I love to train. You don’t start being a footballer at the weekend or on match days. I enjoy my profession every day and with Mourinho training is dynamic with a good mix of the technical and the tactical and nothing lasting so long that the player loses concentration. I’m feeling very good about my football at the moment.’