Revealed: Ole's simple message to the players
Ander Herrera has revealed the simple and inspiring instruction that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has delivered to the players since his appointment as caretaker manager in December: “This is Manchester United and you have to show that you are Manchester United players!”
The club legend’s succinct but challenging statement has worked wonders so far, after his Reds recorded a seventh straight win of the new era when defeating Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday.
That 2-1 success at Old Trafford followed previous morale-boosting victories over Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth, Newcastle United, Reading (in the Emirates FA Cup) and, of course, Tottenham Hotspur.
Herrera has made six appearances under Solskjaer and earned his praise at the weekend, when Ole admitted he has been a fan of the midfielder since watching him play at Old Trafford with Athletic Club in 2012.
In an interview for Saturday’s edition of United Review, Ander admitted he has enjoyed his conversations with the manager and the positive vibe he is creating.
“Since the first day he arrived the message has been very clear: this is Manchester United and you have to show that you are Manchester United players,” Ander told the matchday programme.
“He asked us to show that, and that we want the ball even in the difficult moments in games. I think we have done that. Newcastle away, for example, is a really tough atmosphere, they are waiting every year for United to come so they can try to beat us, but I think the team reacted very well in the second half.”
“It’s been very good,” said Ander. “Everyone is happy and he has brought a lot of positivity into the team. He knows what Manchester United means and he wants the players to know that as well. We have [seven] wins in a row so we cannot ask for more, but we have to be prudent as we are in the middle of the season with a lot of games to play and we have a really tough schedule in February.
“Our attacking players overall are really enjoying playing close to the opposition box, we are creating a lot of chances and we are being the protagonist team in every game – so we are really happy. But this is only [seven] games and we have to keep the balance right, to keep winning and performing the way we are doing. I think we are going to have tough moments and tough games, so let’s see how the team reacts and how we fight against those circumstances.”
During the post-match press conference on Saturday, Ole revealed his long-term appreciation for Ander when he told reporters: “I’ve always enjoyed watching Ander. When we signed him from Athletic Bilbao, he did really well against us for them and he caught my eye back then.”
The manager was referring to our unsuccessful UEFA Europa League ties against Marcelo Bielsa’s Athletic Club back in March 2012, when Herrera and the La Liga side produced a mesmerising performance to win 3-2 at Old Trafford before registering another impressive 2-1 victory from the return leg in Spain.
Herrera impressed United fans when he set up a goal at the Theatre of Dreams and was immediately linked with a transfer, which thankfully later came to fruition during the summer of 2014.