How A Small Decision By Ander Herrera Sealed The Europa League For Manchester United

How A Small Decision By Ander Herrera Sealed The Europa League For Manchester United

Jose Mourinho occasionally acts like he has stepped out of Shakespeare play, but there has been a dearth of quality writing around him. Undoubtedly the best is Deigo Torres' The Special One: The Dark Side of Jose Mourinho, which charts the decline and psychotic fall-out that marked his time at Real Madrid. Mourinho has dismissed it as fiction, and it portrays him in quite a negative light.

That book did also give an insight into his seven-point footballing principle:

1. The game is won by the team who commit fewer errors.

2. Football favours whoever provokes more errors in the opposition.

3. Away from home, instead of trying to be superior to the opposition, it’s better to encourage their mistakes.

4. Whoever has the ball is more likely to make a mistake.

5. Whoever renounces possession reduces the possibility of making a mistake.

6. Whoever has the ball has fear.

7. Whoever does not have it is thereby stronger.

But we have now received a pretty good insight into Mourinho's training methods at Manchester United, courtesy of a report by a Norwegian student. The translated version we've read won't win any literary awards for style, but the content is interesting.

His name is Petter Skogsletten and is currently studying at the sports faculty of the University of Lisbon.

They called out to the United training ground after the Europa League final, as Mourinho explained how he spent ten days drilling his team on how to neutralise the Ajax threat.

He spent three out of ten days in the final where he divided the preparations with attack and defence against Ajax. They all had a brief video meeting followed by practice.

There was a focus on everything from the height of players, how they position themselves, and every phase of the game. He focused a lot on the opponent.

He had analyzed everything about Kasper Dolberg. How he liked to move, how they wanted to play the ball to him, how he played through the midfield.


It also becomes clear that Ander Herrera is one of his favourite players:

Mourinho talked a lot about Herrera, saying he is one of the smartest players he has had during his career.

During the final, this manifested itself. Mourinho had instructed Henrikh Mkhitaryan to stand on the edge of the Ajax penalty area: he had the pace to recover should United be caught on the counter-attack.

At the beginning of the second-half, Herrera changed things by himself.

Suddenly Herrera took hold of the Mkhitaryan and sent him in front of the keeper, while Herrera would stand outside the box. Mourinho said he was so frustrated that said "what the hell is going on?"

It turned out Herrera had taken responsibility in the situation. The reason was that the Mkhitaryan had a yellow card, so if Ajax suddenly put in a counterattack, and the Mkhitaryan had felt the player, he would have been sent off at 1-0.

There was added vindication for Herrera: Mkhitaryan scored from the corner, which made it 2-0, and sealed the trophy for United.


Mourinho would gush that he appreciates Ander Herrera's ability to think for himself.

You'll see Herrera running in from his position outside of the box to celebrate below.

It's a pretty interesting report overall, and can be found here.

See Also: Cyrus Christie Pays Tribute After Passing Of Boxing Legend Uncle Errol



Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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