Ander: I'll play anywhere for United
After back-to-back defeats, Ander Herrera is eager to help Manchester United get back to winning ways in the Premier League, starting with the Reds' trip to Burnley today (Sunday).
Speaking to MUTV's Stewart Gardner ahead of the match at Turf Moor, the Spaniard expressed his willingness to play in any position to help the team, the squad being buoyed by the fans' reaction following Monday's defeat against Tottenham Hotspur, and what the Reds will be likely to face against the Clarets.
You played in a new position on Monday and have played in several positions in your United career – how important is it for the modern footballer to be multifunctional?
“Personally it’s very important but I think it’s even more important for the team. When you want to reach the objectives and win games there is no space for selfishness. You have to try to give what the team needs in every moment. If one day I have to play as a goalkeeper – I hope not but if I’m needed by the team I will do it. That’s the way I feel football. When we all put our best in for the best of the team we will very close to winning games and trophies.”
Have you played in goal in training?!
“I think you may have some images of me in America [on tour] from a few years ago and I was not bad! Maybe long balls I have some problems with but apart from the jokes I think it’s the way the team has to be. If Romelu or Marcus [Rashford] for example have to play as a winger or a defender or a full-back one day then we have to do it because we are looking to achieve the same aims.”
Are the lads desperate to get back out on the pitch after the Spurs defeat?
“Yes, because we did a lot of good things. When you play such a good 60/70 minutes and you created a lot of chances, playing in the opponent’s half and not letting them build their attacks… they’re a very good opponent I must say and personally I really like the way they play… and we didn’t let them even have a corner or a free-kick in the first half. We know the basics and the way we have to play if we want to get results and that’s the way. If we play that game 10 times then nine times out of 10 we will win it. But we didn’t score and then from the first corner and first chance they scored two goals.”
What do you make of the reaction? Do you get the impression that everyone loves the fact that Manchester United didn’t win, even though everyone is sticking together here…
“We all know and we all are experienced enough to know that apart from Manchester United fans, the club and the players everyone wants us to lose which is good! That means they want to be in our situation and would all like to play for and support a team as big as Manchester United. So from there we have to be even stronger; that has to make us even stronger. No-one is going to help us apart from the fans, the club and the team so we all have to be very, very together and focused on the next game.
”And even just focused on the first five minutes of the next game because if we start the way we did against Tottenham we are going to have a lot of chances to win the game. That’s all I can say. I also say thank you to our fans and they thanked us at the end of the Spurs game in terms of the way we played and approached the game with that commitment and this is the way we have to play every game. If we play that way and with that attitude then 90/95% of the games we will win.
There aren’t that many clubs where if you lost 3-0 at home you’d be applauded off the pitch…
“No, it’s true, but our fans are intelligent and they have watched big games and seen the team winning titles and trophies and they know how [we need] to be closer to get those trophies and those titles. The way we played is the way we have to play every game if we want to win titles.”
How are the lads and how is the atmosphere?
“Tuesday was very difficult for all of us. It was a day off and I didn’t even want to wake up! When I was playing in the game I was thinking the goal is going to come sooner or later because we are there. And then I woke up the next day I was thinking how did we lose 3-0 with such a good start in the game and with opportunities? Tottenham didn’t have a corner or a free-kick in the first 55/60 minutes, it’s incredible and we didn’t win the game. But on Wednesday we were back in at the training ground and we were all convinced that’s the way we have to face every game. And if we face the games like that we will be very close to winning games.
”I was talking to Romelu [Lukaku] the other day, we cannot wait until we get the first slap [difficult moment against us], for example against Brighton the first 15/20 minutes we were a little shy if you like. But now we say let’s go for the game as we did against Tottenham and if we go for the game even if you receive a goal against you then you are confident enough to believe in what you’re doing. The other day I was playing and I was thinking this is the way we have to play every game in terms of attitude. Of course you will have days which are better or there might be one where you hit the post and then in another you might make an amazing pass and another day you might make a bad pass but in terms of attitude and commitment the basics are clear. We have to play that game back and watch what we did.
Do Burnley represent a typical Premier League challenge?
“They have a style of play with direct football. I think the connection between the manager and the team is very clear and they all know what to do. They are very good on second balls and we have to be ready for that. I have played there before a few times and if you’re focused on the second balls and don’t let them do what they’re good at – pressure, intensity – if we control the ball and press them high and don’t let them play those long balls we will be close to winning the game. But we have to respect them because they are very good in what they are ready to do. Even when Joe Hart plays a long ball it’s an opportunity for them so we have to be ready for the second balls.”
You can watch the full interview with Ander during Match Day on MUTV, which gets under way at 14:30 BST ahead of kick-off at 16:00 BST.