Ander Herrera: ‘Man United have rivals worried’

Ander Herrera believes Manchester United’s improvements will have their top-four rivals worried.

Nobody looks able to prevent Antonio Conte’s Chelsea cantering to the title, but the race for the Champions League is heating up.

Just five points separate second-placed Tottenham and United in sixth, with Jose Mourinho’s men stretching their unbeaten Premier League run to a 15th match as Leicester were swatted aside 3-0 on Sunday.

The manner of their performance was as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests and Herrera believes such displays will have rivals looking over their shoulder.

“I think the fight with the first six teams in the league — and I add also Everton because they have a very good team — will be very tough.

“We all want to be in the top four and there’s still a lot play for, but I think we are in a good moment. They can see ‘Man United is chasing us’.”

United have the EFL Cup final to look forward to later this month, along with the chance to continue their FA Cup and Europa League tilts. But the Premier League is key having failed to finish higher than fourth since Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

David Moyes and Louis van Gaal eventually paid with their jobs and, despite sitting sixth, Herrera believes things are changing for the better under Mourinho.

“I think football, sooner or later, is fair. Now I think we look stronger. People can see that.”

When reminded that they are sixth right now, the midfielder interjected: “Still sixth. Wait, it’s not finished yet. I think we have more points than last season and two seasons ago. The opponents are also better than the last two seasons.

“Sometimes in football there is no explanations, so the most important thing is when we finish the league we’ll talk again.”

Whatever happens, United will be ruing what could have been at the end of the campaign given they have already drawn nine of their 24 league games. A lack of cutting edge has been one of the main reasons for that, although Mourinho’s side showed their killer instinct at Leicester.

“Of course everyone wants to help the team to score,” Herrera added. “I try. I am shooting as much as I used to do but I remember in the first season I shot eight times and scored eight goals.

“Football is like this, sometimes you put the ball on target and sometimes don’t. I will keep on improving, keep trying to help the team.

“But I think Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), Marcus (Rashford), Juan (Mata), Micki (Henrikh Mkhitaryan), (Anthony) Martial, Wayne (Rooney) will give us a lot of goals and I will keep fighting defensively for the team as well.”


Literary couple among the authors at Listowel Writers' Week

LS Lowry in the picture

Sustaining success in business: Environmentally sound companies helping save the planet

Review: LP, at the Olympia

More From The Irish Examiner