A little over twelve months ago it felt like our clique of Spaniards was likely to be broken up. Rumours of Mata being sold, Herrera not playing regularly and De Gea was certain to be sold to Real Madrid. But somehow, a broken fax-machine (or a password protected file - whatever) meant Dave stayed, signed a new deal and again won player of the year; Mata managed to stick around, playing in every league game last season and even Herrera managed 27 games by the end of 2016's league campaign.
Jose Mourinho came in, and the history between him and Mata led to every single media outlet again linking Mata with an exit. But Juan has found himself key to Manchester United. Six Premier League games into the season, four wins and two losses coincide with the games Mata has started and those he has not. We all know De Gea's position as one of the very top keepers in the world, so his importance to the side has never been in doubt. It is the recent emergence of Ander Herrera as a vital figure in Jose's XI that is both pleasing and a little surprising.
Well done boys ! 👏🏼👏🏼🔴 pic.twitter.com/lqhoh2ZpMN— Ander Herrera (@AnderHerrera) September 24, 2016
In the wake of the emphatic victory over champions Leicester, Jose came out and said of Herrera, "I like him. That's why I think he'll be with me almost every match." His use as a number six is interesting. We got to see a glimpse of it in the second half of the derby, but it was too late to change the game. His performance against Leicester is responsible for the freeing up of Paul Pogba. His attitude and enthusiasm spread through the team. Despite standing on the halfway line, he had a large part to play in the Rashford goal, reminding Mata of a set play just before Blind delivered his corner.
The Spanish lads seem to be close friends off the pitch, which is only good for morale on the pitch. Let's hope they continue to be as effective as they have been, in recent weeks, and they grow to be key figures in what we all hope is a successful reign under Jose Mourinho.
Paul from Rantcast sums Herrera's role up nicely, here: